Please scroll down for our late Friday night post with assorted sound bites after Game 6. First, some Saturday noon quick hits:
### After shooting better than 50 percent during the regular season --- one of only three teams to achieve that in the past 17 years --- the Heat’s golden touch has extended into the playoffs, with Miami shooting far more accurately than it did in its previous three postseasons.
Through three rounds, the Heat is shooting 49.7 percent from the field. At the same juncture in the past three postseasons, the Heat was at 44.3, 45.8 and 47.7 percent.
And consider this: The Pacers allowed a team to shoot 50 percent just seven times in 82 regular season games. The Heat topped 50 percent four times in six games in this series.
LeBron James is shooting a remarkable 56.2 percent after closing at 46.6, 50 and 49.1 in his previous three playoff runs with the Heat. James is leading small forwards in shooting percentage --- something he hasn’t done in any of his three previous Heat playoff runs, when he was bested by Shawn Marion (2011), Stephen Jackson and Kevin Durant (2012) and Kawhi Leonard (2013).
At 51.9 percent from the field, Dwyane Wade is well above his percentages for the Heat’s past three playoff runs: 48.5, 46.2, 45.7.
Keep in mind that since 2000, only two starting shooting guards whose teams advanced past the second round have shot better than 50 percent over an entire postseason: Phoenix’s Jason Richardson in 2010 (50.2 percent) and San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili in 2005 (50.7 percent). San Antonio’s Danny Green entered Saturday night’s Western Conference Finals game at 50 percent for the postseason.
A year after passing the Eastern Conference championship trophy to Chris Andersen, Heat owner Micky Arison handed it to Greg Oden.
“It’s tradition; the new guy gets the trophy,” Oden said. “I’m happy,… to play and have family and friends see me on TV and to hold the trophy. It’s been a long road for me.”
His 4:33 to end Game 6 marked his first action of the postseason. Oden said it was “amazing” to finish the game and “I’m not complaining” about not playing more.
### Erik Spoelstra said Stephenson, ultimately, “had nothing to do with our series, our success in this series, how LeBron showed up tonight. We’re playing for something much bigger than that guy. To make a comment about [his antics], then you're just highlighting that guy.”
Spoelstra refused to use Stephenson's name, which reminded me of what Al Golden did with Nevin Shapiro. Golden would never refer to Shapiro by name because of his disdain for him. (Not to equate Stephenson with Shapiro, of course, but you get the drift.)
### The Pacers’ size advantage ultimately did them no good, as David West pointed out. “Speed neutralizes size,” Battier said. “Speed and pace and space. If you don’t play hard, size can swallow you up.”
### Chris Andersen, who had nine points and 10 rebounds in 12 minutes of Game 6, indicated he felt some discomfort in his bruised thigh. He wanted to stay in the game in the fourth quarter but said Spoelstra “had to put Zilla back out of the game and sit him back down because of my leg.”
### James, 29, became the 22nd player in history to win 100 playoff games and only the second to win that many before age 30, joining Magic Johnson.
### James averaged 22.8 points in the Eastern Finals --- the 27th time in his 28 playoff series that he averaged at least 20 points; he fell short of that (17.8) in the 2011 Finals against Dallas. Only Michael Jordan had a better percentage, averaging 20-plus in all 37 of his series.
### James will join Heat assistant Bob McAdoo and deceased Dennis Johnson as the only players in NBA history to play in the Finals in each of their first four seasons with a new team.
### The Heat has won 11 straight home playoff games and is 38-7 at home in the playoffs since James’ arrival.
### The Finals start in San Antonio or Oklahoma City at 9 p.m. Thursday, with Game 2 on Sunday.
### Charles Barkley, after the Pacers acquired Evan Turner on Feb. 20: "This wraps up the East for me. They're going to win the Eastern Conference."
Turner didn't play in Game 6.
Sound bites in the wake of the Heat’s fourth straight Eastern Conference title:
### LeBron James, on Lance Stephenson putting his hand on his mouth in the first quarter: “I have no idea how I restrained [myself]. It was uncalled for, for sure. I understand what the bigger picture is. But I was able to move on. I let him know how I felt."
On Frank Vogel saying the Heat are the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls of their era: “D-Wade and me grew up watching the great Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. Just two kids from the inner cities. We never thought we would get to this point. To be able to play the game we love at a high level for one another, for our teammates, is the ultimate. To hear the comparisons, you’re humbled by it….
“I told the guys this is going to be our path. It’s going to be different. We had that mindset that if we had to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals, we had to win on the road. Going through the week and week grind and months of a regular season took a toll on all of us. I felt we could [do this again] if we had the health…
“[Winning the East again] hasn’t hit us that much yet…. [The spark tonight] started with Bird coming in the game. That’s what picked us up. Rashard was a key for everything, his ability to shoot the ball, stretch the floor…. Me being in positions I’ve been in the past where I’ve failed, but never defeated. Being able to come back from failure and continuing to stay strong defines who you are as a man.”
### Dwyane Wade: “We don’t take this granted and hopefully our fans in Miami don’t take this for granted either. We’ve worked as a unit, sacrificed as individuals to be in this position. It’s crazy, too…. Whoever we meet in the next round will be a big challenge.
“We’re going to enjoy this moment. It’s something for a lifetime that’s going to fulfill us as athletes.”
### Chris Bosh: “I would rather it hit me in two weeks. We have a lot more work to do. This is fine and all, but this is not where we want. It’s only another stepping stone to our ultimate goal."
### Shane Battier, on Stephenson: “It didn’t motivate us. It’s an annoyance. It’s nice we don’t have to deal with it. The two teams playing in the West are about basketball. It’s not about chicanery.”
### Battier said when “we were on our 30th starting lineup” this season, he wondered: “Are you ever going to figure it out? Are we ever going to be healthy enough to figure it out? That’s the challenge this team needed…
“Our margin of errors was slimmer this year. There’s not an article about us that doesn’t mention our aging role players.”
### Ray Allen: “We’re not going to understand the magnitude of this until we’re old and gray and home with our kids. [Going to] two Finals, you feel so privileged. Thinking about four is unprecedented.”
### David West: “They’re built for those moments. They are able to get to a level that for some reason we can’t. We can’t beat them. They were able to neutralize our size. They are more seasoned for this moment. We fell short to a great team in the midst of an unbelievable run led by the best player on the planet.”
### This was a deplorable and embarrassing exit for Indiana, the Eastern Conference’s top seed eviscerated Friday by a Game 6 Heat avalanche and undone by first-half no-shows by Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and their entire bench.
“I thought we were going to win,” Stephenson said. “We worked so hard to get to this point. Everybody is hurting.”
But Stephenson simultaneously served up another silly sideshow, elbowing LeBron James at the start of a timeout, putting his hands over James’ mouth, swiping Norris Cole across the face and unnecessarily egging on a crowd showering him with boos.
After two weeks of folishness, the Heat has had just about enough of Stephenson.
After he cupped James’ face during a first quarter stoppage, James blurted: “Don’t [expletive] touch me.”
Stephenson irritated the Heat further when he jumped in the air and slapped Cole in the face while both were going for a loose ball.
“It was a loose ball – I was going for a loose ball,” Stephenson said. “I know it looks bad. I didn’t do it on purpose.”
(Erik Spoelstra said the foul "was unnecessary, excessive.")
Stephenson was charged with a flagrant foul on the play with 8:47 left in the second quarter. He didn’t score again, missing both his shots in the second half.
Soon after that play, Udonis Haslem --- from the Heat bench --- was seen telling Stephenson: “I’m going to [expletive] you up.”
It never came to that. In fact, Stephenson hugged Dwyane Wade and James after the game, with James patting Stephenson on the stomach.
Stephenson said James told him: “Keep working hard. You have the talent.”
Stephenson closed with 13 points (4 for 9 shooting) but was helpless to stop James’ forays to the basket.
He said afterward that he has “no regrets” about anything in this series. “I am very passionate about basketball,” he said. “Sometimes I tend to do things out of control. It’s my heart and competitiveness to win the game. Nobody is perfect.”
### Roy Hibbert: “It feels horrible. It will hurt for a while. They were just hitting everything.”
### Vogel: “I think it’s about us not being able to reach their level, yet. They have a way to raise it to the point that it’s too difficult to overcome.”
### Of Stephenson’s behavior, Vogel said: “I don’t think it’s ever good to tug on Superman’s cape.”