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Report: Ming, Hill Want to Buy Clippers

Report: Ming, Hill Want to Buy Clippers

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Even though the Los Angeles Clippers are not for sale just yet, there is some serious star power rumored to have in interest in purchasing the franchise. 

Sources have told ESPN.com that Grant Hill and Yao Ming are working separately to assemble ownership groups to bid on the Clippers once they are available for purchase. A separate source told ESPN.com that Los Angeles’ embattled owner, Donald Sterling, has agreed to let his wife take control of the impending sale of the team.

A 19-year veteran, Hill retired following the 2012-13 season and has been reportedly been putting together a group to acquire the Clippers. Yao, who expressed heavy interest in buying the Milwaukee Bucks before outgoing owner Herb Kohl said keeping the team in Milwaukee was a requirement.

Among the others rumored to have a desire to own the LA franchise, Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners, who combined to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and billionaire Antony Ressler.

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Cavaliers GM Open to Trading Top Pick

Cavaliers GM Open to Trading Top Pick

Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — With many still in shock that the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to once again land the number one pick in the NBA draft, general manager David Griffin says the team is willing to deal the pick.

With the draft set for June 26, all eyes will be on the Cavaliers to see who the team takes at number one or if it will wind up dealing the pick.

“I actually got calls right afterward, while I was standing there doing media,” Griffin told ESPN Cleveland’s The Really Big Show. “Teams were already reaching out and texting, so I think it will be an active period of time.”

The Cavaliers had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top pick.

The team has landed the number one pick three out of the last four years.

Last year, the Cavs selected Anthony Bennett number one overall, but he struggled during his rookie season.

Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid are vying for the top spot this year.

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NBA’s All-Rookie Team Released

NBA’s All-Rookie Team Released

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The NBA released their All-Rookie team Thursday and Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams was the only unanimous pick.

Also making the first team was Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke, Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee, and New York Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

The second team was made up of Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokoumpo, Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng, Charlotte Bobcats center Cody Zeller, and Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams.

The voting was done by 125 writers and broadcasters in the United States and Canada.

Carter-Williams joined Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only other rookie to average over 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists per game. He went 11th overall in the draft.

Oladipo was the second pick in the draft. He and Burke were the only two players to be named to the All-Rookie team who were selected in the top 10.

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Nets Guard Deron Williams to Undergo Surgery on Both Ankles

Nets Guard Deron Williams to Undergo Surgery on Both Ankles

NBA via Brooklyn Nets(NEW YORK) — Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams will undergo surgery on both ankles next week, the team announced Thursday.

“He will have a bone chip removed from his right ankle, and the left ankle will have an arthroscopic cleanout with removal of spurs from both the front and back of the ankle,” team foot and ankle specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley, who will perform the surgery, said in a statement issued by the team.

For the past two seasons, Williams has been plagued by persistent injuries in both of his ankles. He has received multiple cortisone shots and platelet-rich-plasma injections to help ease the pain, but the problem has not gone away.

Williams averaged just 14.3 points and 6.1 assists in 64 games during the regular season for the Nets, the lowest totals since his rookie year. In 12 playoff games, he averaged 14.5 points and 5.8 assists.  The Nets were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The procedures are scheduled for next Tuesday. The 29-year-old Williams still has three years and $63.1 million remaining on his deal with the Nets.

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Mark Cuban: ‘We’re All Prejudiced in One Way or Another’

Mark Cuban: ‘We’re All Prejudiced in One Way or Another’

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Reality Rocks(NEW YORK) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is at it again.

Cuban spoke with INC.com about the recent racial comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and said he believes everyone lives with some sort of prejudice.

“In this day and age, this country has really come a long way putting any type of bigotry behind us, regardless of who it’s toward,” Cuban said Wednesday. “We’ve come a long way, and with that progress comes a price. We’re a lot more vigilant and we’re a lot less tolerant of different views, and it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to adapt or evolve.”

“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. So in my businesses, I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I’m not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it’s not appropriate for me to throw stones,” he continued.

Cuban said during the interview that he hopes there are people that can play an important role in limiting bigotry and prejudice.

“I’ll try to give them a chance to improve themselves, because I think that helping people improve their lives, helping people engage with people they may fear or may not understand, and helping people realize that while we all may have our prejudices and bigotries we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road,” he said. “Because it does my company no good, it does my customers no good, it does society no good if my response to somebody and their racism and bigotry is to say, ‘It’s not right for you to be here. Go take your attitude somewhere else.’”

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Spurs Crush Thunder 112-77 in Game Two

Spurs Crush Thunder 112-77 in Game Two

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) –  Danny Green scored 21 points on seven made three-pointers as the San Antonio Spurs routed the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-77 in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night.

Tony Parker led San Antonio with 22 points, while Tim Duncan added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Most importantly, the Spurs took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. 

“We just did our job. We won our first two games at home and I’m sure they’re going to go back and say we have to do our job and win two games at home,” Parker said.

The Spurs closed the first half on a 25-8 run to take a 58-44 lead into the break. Parker and Green each scored eight points in the third quarter as the San Antonio outscored the Thunder 33-18.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 15 points for the Thunder, but the All-Star duo shot just 13-for-40 from the field. 

“It definitely doesn’t feel good and it shouldn’t,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I hope our locker doesn’t feel good. You shouldn’t feel good. We got our butts kicked. But we have a good opportunity to come back and win Game 3.”

Game 3 is set for Sunday in Oklahoma City.

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Silver Confident League Is “Doing the Right Thing” with Sterling

Silver Confident League Is “Doing the Right Thing” with Sterling

NBATV/ABC News(NEW YORK) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke for the first time on Tuesday since banning Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league.

Silver believes the league is doing everything they can to take away ownership of the team from Sterling.

“We know we’re doing the right thing, and I know I have the owners behind me,” Silver said.

The NBA charged Sterling Monday with damaging the league with his racist comments, and set a hearing for June 3.

“I’ll say that we’ve had strong leadership from Glen Taylor, who’s the chairman of our board, and Peter Holt, who just recently stepped down as the former chairman or who had been the former chairman of the board,” Silver said. “We have a very active advisory finance committee, which is 10 NBA owners who have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss these proceedings, and the timing is laid out in the NBA constitution. We’re following it to the letter in terms of numbers of days that Mr. Sterling has to respond and then when the hearing will be held, and as I said, I know we’re doing the right thing here. This is an unprecedented proceeding.”

Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the charge.  If he does not, it will be grounds for termination.

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LeBron James Leads Heat to Game 2 Victory over Pacers

LeBron James Leads Heat to Game 2 Victory over Pacers

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) –  LeBron James scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, and the Miami Heat rallied to burn the Indiana Pacers 87-83 on Tuesday night to even up the Eastern Conference finals at a game apiece.

Dwayne Wade led the Heat with 23 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter when the Heat went on a 12-2 run late to put the game away.

Indiana led 73-69 with 7:19 remaining when James and Wade took control of the game. Miami’s defense gave up only eight points over the final five minutes.

“That’s what’s it’s about,” James said afterwards. “It’s not going to be pretty. Not in the Eastern Conference. It’s never pretty basketball in the Eastern Conference. It’s about who can sustain runs. You know, who can get defensive stops? Who can not turn the ball over and who can get great shots? I think we did that in the fourth.”

Lance Stephenson scored 25 points in the loss for the Pacers, while Paul George added 14. After working so hard to earn home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Pacers gave it away to the two-time defending champions. They’ll need a win in Miami to earn it back.

Miami has won 11 straight games following a playoff loss and still has not trailed 2-0 in a series since the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Game 3 is Saturday night in South Beach.

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Magic Executive Pat Williams Eagerly Anticipating the Draft Lottery

Magic Executive Pat Williams Eagerly Anticipating the Draft Lottery

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The 2014 NBA Draft is said to be one of the deepest pool of prospects in years. Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams hopes his team can land the top pick in the highly anticipated draft.

This past season, the Magic finished with the third-worst record in the NBA at 23-59. Because of that, they are in prime position to land one of the top players coming out.

“It’s a deep draft, if you don’t get number one your still gonna come away with a very, very good young prospect,” Williams told ABC Sports Radio. “I underline that because all of these guys are very young. Few of them haven’t turned 19 yet so it’s a young crop.”

Players like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and Dante Exum are expected to among the top picks in the June draft

In the upcoming draft lottery, the Magic can finish no worse than the sixth pick, but have a 15.6% of getting the number one pick.

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Spurs Rout Thunder to Open Western Conference Finals

Spurs Rout Thunder to Open Western Conference Finals

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) — Tim Duncan scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Spurs dominated the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-105 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

Tony Parker didn’t appear to be limited by the hamstring injury that sidelined him for parts of their series against the Portland Trail Blazers.  He scored 14 points and dished out 12 assists in 36 minutes.

“We always want to try to penetrate,” Parker said. “We always want our ball movement, that’s how we play — kick and pitch and stuff like that. You know, obviously it’s a little bit better with [Serge Ibaka] not being in the paint, but we’re still going to try to penetrate and make stuff happen.”

San Antonio scored 66 points in the paint and shot 58 percent from the field. It was easy work inside for the Spurs, as Oklahoma City was without defensive stalwart Ibaka, who will miss the remainder of the postseason with a calf injury.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to score 53 points for the Thunder, but the rest of their starting unit struggled for most of the game.

“We’re a no-excuse team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Serge is out. He’s not coming back. We have to play better. We have to play better. If we expect to beat one of the best teams in basketball, and a very good offensive team, we have to play and we’re not going to make an excuse.”

Game two will be played on Wednesday night in San Antonio.

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Scott Brooks Thinks the Knicks Should Pursue Derek Fisher

Scott Brooks Thinks the Knicks Should Pursue Derek Fisher

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — With the New York Knicks still searching for a new head coach after Steve Kerr turned them down, Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks thinks that point guard Derek Fisher would be a great fit for the team once the playoffs end.

Fisher’s name has come up among reported coaching targets for the team. He’s still an active player, but is rumored to be retiring following this season.

Brooks thinks that Fisher’s knowledge of the game and his realtionship with Phil Jackson would serve him well in New York.

“Derek will make a great head coach,” Brooks told the New York Daily News on Saturday. “He’s smart, he knows the game and he works hard. He’s also played for one of the greatest coaches in sports history . . . and now I’m not talking about myself by the way.”

The 39-year-old Fisher is in his 18th NBA season. Going from player to coach right away isn’t unheard of, as Jason Kidd played for the New York Knicks last season and became the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets during the offseason.

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Pacers Prevail, Beat Heat in Game 1 of East Finals

Pacers Prevail, Beat Heat in Game 1 of East Finals

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Indiana Pacers have the Miami Heat figured out for one game at least after their 107-96 win in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.

Paul George led the way for Indiana with 24 points and seven assists and both David West and Roy Hibbert added 19 in the victory.

“There’s nothing to celebrate. It’s not like we won a championship. It’s one game,” George Hill said. “Yes, it was good, but if we come out and lay an egg on Tuesday, this game doesn’t mean anything.”

The Pacers had a 19 point lead late in the third and entered the fourth up by 13. West’s layup gave Indiana 100-84 lead with 5:07 left.

Dwyane Wade scored 27 and LeBron James had 25 in the loss.  Chris Bosh was held to nine points and two rebounds.

“The game’s still so fresh. It’s too hard to just say, `Well, we need to do this better in Game 2,” James said after the Heat lost for just the second time in 10 playoff games. “We need to evaluate our mistakes and things we did in Game 1 first before I can say what we need to bring to Game 2.”

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ESPN Hires former Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson Back

ESPN Hires former Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson Back

Christian Petersen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Many were waiting to see where former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson would go following being let go by the team. As it turns out, he’s heading back to ESPN to return as an NBA game analyst for the network.

Jackson will get right to work as he’ll be part of the commentating crew for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Indiana on Sunday.

Jackson worked along Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen on ESPN until he was hired by the Warriors despite no head coaching experience.

He steadily improved the team during his three seasons with the Warriors. This past season, he led the Warriors to a 51-31 record, which was their best mark since the 1991-1992 season.

It was rumored that Jackson was a candidate for the vacant New York Knicks head coaching position, but he’s heading back to the broadcast table.

Jackson went 121-109 with the Warriors, and was replaced by former NBA player and GM, Steve Kerr.

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Ibaka Likely Out for Playoffs

Ibaka Likely Out for Playoffs

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — On Thursday night, Serge Ibaka left Oklahoma City’s Game Six win in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. On Friday, team General Manager Sam Presti announced a Grade 2 strain of the plantaris muscle will most likely keep the power forward out for the remainder of the postseason.

“I just want to express our disappointment for Serge, who, as we all know, is an elite competitor and someone that has proven to be a tremendous teammate,” Presti said. “He was playing great basketball throughout the season. He’s had a huge impact on our season to date.”

The calf injury will sideline Ibaka due to the amount of time it takes to heal as well as the high reinjury rate. Ibaka was averaging 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game during the playoffs, helping the Thunder reach the Western Conference finals. Even with the injury, Presti feels his team still has a chance against top-seed San Antonio in the West.

“We have had this group together for a while, and they’ve been through some ups and downs, and this is just another one that hopefully is only going to make us better,” Presti noted in a conference call with reporters.

Oklahoma City won all four meetings with the Spurs in the regular season. Game One of the series will begin on Monday night in Texas.

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Trail Blazers Extend Head Coach Terry Stotts

Trail Blazers Extend Head Coach Terry Stotts

Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) —  The Portland Trail Blazers announced that they have signed head coach Terry Stotts to a multiyear contract extension.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  Stotts led the Trail Blazers to a 54-28 record this past season.  The team made the playoffs for the first time since 2011, but they fell to the San Antonio Spurs in five games in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Terry has done an outstanding job during his first two years with the organization,” general manager Neil Olshey said in a statement. “This extension illustrates our confidence in him as our head coach as well as the Portland Trail Blazers’ continued commitment to building a model of consistency and stability.”

In two seasons with the Blazers, Stotts has posted an 87-77 record.  He was also an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks for four seasons prior to arriving in Portland, helping the Mavericks win the NBA title in 2011.

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Stan Van Gundy Introduced in Detroit

Stan Van Gundy Introduced in Detroit

NBA via Getty Images(AUBURN HILLS, Mich.) — The Detroit Pistons introduced new head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy on Thursday.

Van Gundy received a five-year deal worth $35 million and is looking forward to his new home in Detroit.

“One of the big problems at least in our league right now in a lot of places is there is not a great connection necessarily between front office and coaching,” Van Gundy said. “This setup — nothing to do with power — it allows us to really create a tremendous synergy and a very unified organization.”

Van Gundy will have the task of dealing with another talented big man after coaching Dwight Howard in Orlando and Shaquille O’Neal in Miami.

“I think we have two responsibilities to Andre Drummond that will help our team, and that is, number one, to do everything we possibly can to develop him as a player,” Van Gundy said. “And then secondly, we have a responsibility to put a system and personnel around him that allow him to thrive.”

Van Gundy inherits a team that went 29-53 last season, but has a 371-208 coaching record in seven-plus seasons with the Heat and Magic.

“This is the most important decision we have made as an organization,” owner Tom Gores said.  “Not only did we hire a coach and president of basketball, we are resetting the culture of the franchise. I’m so confident that this is going to work.”

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Sterling May Refuse to Pay Fine, Sue NBA

Sterling May Refuse to Pay Fine, Sue NBA

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling isn’t going away that easy.

An attorney for the banned owner says that not only will Sterling refuse to pay a $2.5 million fine, but that he may sue the NBA if not afforded due process.

Antitrust lawyer Max Blecher reportedly sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver detailing the potential for a lawsuit. According to SI.com, Blecher’s correspondence stated that “no punishment is warranted” for Sterling’s racist comments made in April. The letter also declared that Sterling’s “due process rights” were violated during the league’s investigation.

The fine imposed on Sterling was due this week but has not been paid and, according to Blecher, it will not be paid.

Sterling was banned for life by Silver who has advocated for league owners to oust the Clippers owner from the NBA.

A 75 percent majority vote from the other 29 owners is needed to remove Sterling from his position with the franchise. His ownership could also be terminated if the fine is not paid within 30 days of notice.

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Thunder Advance to Western Conference Finals

Thunder Advance to Western Conference Finals

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES, Calf.) — Kevin Durant made just one of his first seven shots but turned in another MVP performance to lift Oklahoma City past Los Angeles, 104-98, to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Durant had 39 points and 16 rebounds in Game Six to finish out the series with the Clippers while Russell Westbrook added 22 points and 12 assists.

The Thunder had to mount another double-digit comeback, trailing by sixteen early in the second quarter. Durant would connect on three straight 3-point shots to bring Oklahoma City to within five 41-36 with 4:27 remaining in the first half before trailing by eight heading into the locker room. The league’s Most Valuable Player finished the game going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

At the beginning of the third, Los Angeles seemed to have the edge and kept the Thunder at arm’s length. A J.J. Redick basket gave the Clippers a 62-54 advantage with under six minutes to play in the frame, but Oklahoma City went on another run behind strong defense and better shooting. Nick Collison’s three-pointer at the buzzer tied the game at 72-72 heading into the fourth.

Both teams trading buckets to open the period with Chris Paul knotting the game at 80 apiece four minutes in. However, the next two minutes belonged to Oklahoma City as the Thunder scored 10 straight points to seize control. Los Angeles got as close as six the rest of the way, but Oklahoma City hit their free throws down the stretch to ensure the win.

The Thunder were 29-of-33 (87.9%) from the charity stripe while Los Angeles was just 12-for-20 (60%). Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s defense held the hot-shooting Clippers to just 6-of-21 from downtown. Paul had 25 points and 11 assists for the Clippers to pace the offense. Teammate Blake Griffin fouled out after scoring 22 points and picking up eight rebounds to go along with eight assists. 

Los Angeles must now face a difficult offseason following the racist comments from owner Donald Sterling, as well as two epic collapses in their final two games of the season. Oklahoma City will move on to face San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals beginning Monday night in Texas.

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Indiana Closes Out Wizards, Face Heat Next

Indiana Closes Out Wizards, Face Heat Next

Rob Carr/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Despite a stumbling first round victory, the Indiana Pacers looked back to form on Thursday night when they beat Washington 93-80 to finish off the series four games to two. Indiana now advances to the Eastern Conference Finals to face defending champion Miami in a rematch of last year’s conference finals.

“We’re ready to go,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. “I like the way we played this series. We have nothing but the utmost respect for the champs and we’re excited to have another crack at them.”

The Game Six win was not an easy one for the Pacers as they blew a 16-point second half lead before using their defense to pull away late. Washington was held scoreless for more than four minutes in the second quarter, giving Indiana a 52-40 halftime advantage. That was eventually erased, and the Wizards took a 74-73 lead with 8:30 to play.

However, David West came right back and hit a jumper to put the Pacers ahead for good. That basket triggered a 20-6 run to close out the game — and the series. West finished the game with 29 points, including 18 in the second half, to pace all scorers.

John Wall was held to just 12 points for the Wizards and was 0-4 from three-point range. Marcin Gortat was Washington’s leading scorer with 19 points. The Wizards advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and won a second round game for the first since 1982.

It has been a puzzling season for Indiana, who held a 46-13 record on March 2 before limping into the playoffs. After being pushed to seven games by eighth-seeded Atlanta in the first round, and losing Game 1 at home to Washington, the Pacers played impressively on the road and are 5-4 away from home in the postseason.

Indiana will now host the back-to-back champs in Game One on Sunday in Indianapolis. The Pacers and Heat went a full seven games last season with Miami defeating Indiana 99-76 in the decisive game.

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Heat Advance to Eastern Conference Finals

Heat Advance to Eastern Conference Finals

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(MIAMI) –  Don’t look now, but the Miami Heat are back in the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth year in a row.

LeBron James and Dwayne Wade combined to score 57 points as the Heat rallied to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 96-94 on Wednesday night, winning their second-round matchup in five games.

“When we met the first day for prep, we said the No. 1 key, overwhelmingly the No. 1 key in this series, was great mental stability,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the two-time defending champions won their 10th straight playoff series.

The Nets led by eight with under five minutes remaining and were looking to take the series back to Brooklyn for Game 6. The Heat went on a 12-0 run to take the lead for good, while the Nets missed nine straight shots. Ray Allen hit a huge three-pointer to give Miami a 93-91 lead with 32 seconds remaining.

“Give the Heat credit,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “They were attacking there in the fourth quarter. We were attacking. Both teams were attacking. They made plays, they made shots and we didn’t.”

Joe Johnson led the Nets with 34 points, while Paul Pierce chipped in 19.

Miami will face either the Indiana Pacers or the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference finals.

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