Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat - 5/18/14
Miami Heat (54-28) at Indiana Pacers (56-26)
NBA Basketball: Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
The Line: Indiana Pacers +1.5 -- Over/Under: 182 See the Latest Odds
The Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers kick off the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 1 tonight.
At long last, we had to wait about 12 months to see this matchup and it is finally here. Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers once again play for a chance to advance to to the NBA Finals.
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LeBron James had another MVP-caliber season and carried that form straight into the playoffs, averaging 30.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists, including a 49-point explosion against the Nets in a pivotal Game 4 against the Nets in the second round. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade slowly worked his way into the playoffs and is averaging just 17.9 points, but he looked as good as ever in the Heat's close-out win over the Nets, leading the team with 28 points. However, as important as those two players are to the Heat's championship hopes, it's going to be the play of the supporting cast that gets them over the Pacers who rely so heavily on their starting five.
Speaking of the Pacers, Paul George has averaged 21.9 points throughout the playoffs, but other than a 39-point explosion against the Wizards in Game 4, he has been rather inconsistent which fits right into the Pacers' identity lately. You really didn't know what you were getting from Indiana on a night to night basis and it almost cost them in the second round. On the bright side, the Pacers still managed to pick up speed and get rid of the Wizards despite playing below their best, but they're going to need their best to get past the Heat in this round. The Pacers did a great job of locking up home-court advantage for this series which could prove vital against the Heat, but it'll count for nothing if Roy Hibbert decides to disappear again... oops i jinxed it.
In ATS trends, the Heat are just 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings in Indiana and the Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
There's no doubt in my mind that the Heat have been in much better form than the Pacers who seemed to have lost their identity somewhat, so I'm definitely leaning towards them. However, a meeting with the Heat might be just what the Pacers need to snap them out of their funk, and they might just be able to draw first blood if they can dominate the boards and limit turnovers tonight. This one really could go either way, but my gut is just telling me to stick with the team playing the better ball, and that's definitely the Heat.