Did you hear that?

Thud.

It’s been a remarkable, franchise-changing run, a wild and exhilarating ride to within 48 minutes of the Pacers’ first NBA Finals berth since 2000.

But ...

Thud.

Great series, lousy, anticlimactic ending. Inappropriate ending, like a movie that’s terrific for 90 minutes, then turns trite and hackneyed at the finish.

Heat 99, Pacers 76.

Thud.

So, who were those Indiana Pacers? They played so thoroughly out of character, they were unrecognizable from the team that pushed the Heat to this seventh game, and got blown out as a result. They turned the ball over. They got creamed on the boards. They didn’t accomplish much of anything in the paint. With the season and a legacy on the line, the Heat discovered another gear.

The Pacers did not.

“They taught us a lesson,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said later. “This team (the Heat) has been there before, they’ve won a championship and they know how to ratchet up their defense to a level where they can impose their will on a basketball game. And our guys didn’t handle it well.”

The Pacers didn’t do any of the things that put them in this position, which will certainly leave them with a summer of hot regret. It’s one thing to lose while giving your best effort. It’s another to know that you played your worst game of the series on the biggest stage.

What if?