The Miami Heat protected their home floor in the Eastern Conference Finals to grab the commanding 3-to-1 series lead. With the best-of-series shifting back to Indiana, can the Pacers find a lease on life and extend the series? Or will the defending champions take Game 5 and end it on the road?
A quick recap on what transpired the past four games; the Pacers played like the number one see in the opener beating the Heat, 107-to-96 behind good shooting from virtually everyone. All five starters finished in double-figure scoring led by Paul George’s 24 points.
After that victory, Indiana’s offense crumbled as the Heat rediscovered their defense, which was oh-so-effective against the Charlotte Bobcats and Brooklyn Nets in the first two rounds of the postseason. The Pacers were contained to just 86.7 points per game in the next three on 45.3 per cent shooting (98-of-216 FG).
To compare, Indiana averaged 96.7 PPG during the regular season on 44.9 per cent shooting. So while the percentage is about the same they are far from producing the same output. And against the potent defensive system of the defending champions, they need to produce on offense too and not just rely on their defense.
2014 NBA Playoffs - East Finals Recap and Schedule: Game 1: Heat 96, Pacers 107 Game 2: Heat 87, Pacers 83 Game 3: Pacers 87, Heat 99 Game 4: Pacers 90, Heat 102 Game 5: Heat @ Pacers (May 28, Wednesday) Game 6: Pacers @ Heat (May 30, Friday) – if necessary Game 7: Heat @ Pacers (June 1, Sunday) – if necessary
Then again, the Pacers’ defense isn’t any better and they have not lived up to expectations of being the squad with the toughest D in the league. In the regular season they only allowed 92.3 PPG (2nd overall in the team defense in the entire NBA) but has given up 96.0 PPG to the Heat in this series and more importantly, they have allowed the Heat to shoot 50.7 per cent (143-for-282 FG). That is an unforgivable number for a defense that allowed only 42.6 per cent in 82 games—especially against the mighty Heat.
Still, the Pacers are the Dr. Jekyl-and-Mr. Hyde squad of these NBA Playoffs— when they win, they look like legit contenders for the title; but when they lose, even the likes of the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks can make them look like a team on the way to the lottery.
Prediction: Dr. Jekyl appears for last time in this East Finals and force the series to go back to Miami. Playing back at home should give them back the confidence on offense and find a way to slow down both LeBron James (32 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in Game 4) and Dwyane Wade (23 points each in Games 2 and 3)—a difficult but doable task even for these schizo-Pacers. Indiana 92, Miami 82
Betting Lines: Miami Heat (-1.5) vs. Indiana Pacers (Over/Under: 184.0) Game time: 10:30 am AEDT *All odds are correct as of time posting via covers.com
Betting Against the Spread (ATS)
Miami Heat Trends - The Heat are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games - The Heat are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after an ATS win - The Heat are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after a one-day rest
Indiana Pacers Trends - The Pacers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games after an ATS loss - The Pacers are 15-25-1 ATS in their last 51 games - The Pacers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games at home