miami_heat_5.jpgMiami- The Miami Heat soundly defeated the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals to return to the NBA championship for the third straight year. LeBron James scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds, ailing Dwyane Wade matched his postseason high with 21 points, and the Heat ran away from the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference series on Monday night.

The Heat had alternated wins and losses with the Pacers in the first six games of the series, and were coming off their worst offensive outing of the year in Game 6.

In that Game 7, Wade had 21 points and nine rebounds, was active defensively and looked like his old self as the Heat destroyed the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in an anticlimactic conclusion to what had been a captivating and competitive series.

"Everything that happened in first six games didn't matter to us," Wade said. "It was all about Game 7."

 But the night marked the return of Wade, who eclipsed 20 points for the first time since Game 2 against Milwaukee in the first round. Wade had looked ordinary for most of the conference finals but had a bounce in his step on Monday.

LeBron James was again a dominant force at both ends as he grabbed eight rebounds with four assists. He was a step quicker and in attack mode all night. His 15 made free throws were one more than Indiana had as a team.

In the NBA Finals for the third straight year, the Heat will play the San Antonio Spurs in a series that starts Thursday in Miami.