INDIANAPOLIS — There was nothing soft about Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
Wade scored 41 points, LeBron James chipped in 28 and the Heat finished off the Indiana Pacers, locking up a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 105-93 victory in Game 6 on Thursday night.
The Heat wrapped up the best-of-7 series and will face either Boston or Philadelphia in the next round starting in Miami on Monday.
Of course, nothing less than an NBA title will make for a satisfying summer in South Beach.
Two series down, two to go.
The Heat rallied from an early 11-point deficit, riding the hot hand of Wade in the opening half. He scored 26 points by the break, tying Tim Hardaway’s 16-year-old franchise record for most playoff points in the first two quarters. James hit consecutive baskets with just over a minute remaining to close it out.
Next up, the Celtics or surprising 76ers. The Heat will get a much-needed chance to relax before worrying about the next opponent, which will be determined in a Game 7 at Boston on Saturday.
David West led Indiana with 24 points and all five starters were in double figures. But that balance was overwhelmed by Wade and James.
MAGIC: Shaquille O’Neal’s flirtation with Orlando’s front office opening didn’t last long.
O’Neal released a statement Thursday afternoon in which he said he will not pursue the job.
“When I first heard about the vacancy for the Orlando Magic general manager position, I was clearly intrigued,” O’Neal said in his statement. “I was drafted by the Magic, I have a great love for the franchise, and I have made the city of Orlando my home. Additionally, I have great admiration and respect for the DeVos family.
“However, this is not a job I have an interest in pursuing.”
BOBCATS: A person familiar with the situation says Charlotte will interview Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan today for its vacant head coaching position.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t made its list of candidates public.
The 70-year-old Sloan spent 23 seasons with the Utah Jazz before resigning in February 2011. He hasn’t coached since.
Sloan first told SI.com on Thursday that he plans to meet with Bobcats officials.
Sloan becomes the ninth known candidate, joining Patrick Ewing, Nate McMillan, Dave Joerger, Mike Malone, Nate Tibbetts, Mike Dunlap and Stephen Silas. The Bobcats also plan to interview Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw.