Here we go again.
It’s the Indiana Pacers versus the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals as both teams were pegged in the preseason to meet at this stage. After the drama in the Pacers camp and the inconsistencies of the Heat throughout the year, it is Paul George’s squad versus LeBron James’ crew for a slot in the NBA Finals much like last year at this point of the postseason when the Heat defeated the Pacers in seven games.
The best-of-seven affair begins Sunday afternoon (Early Monday morning Australia) in Indiana, where the Pacers look to protect their homefloor and where the Heat will look to steal homecourt advantage.
Road to the Conference Finals
The Pacers had a better regular season run to earn the top seed but has been struggling of late. They needed the full seven games to beat the stubborn Atlanta Hawks in the first round and equally gutted out a series win over the upstart Washington Wizards.
Meanwhile, the Heat appear to be peaking at the right time. They swept the young Charlotte Bobcats in the opening round and dispatched the veteran Brooklyn Nets in just five games.
While they took different paths to get to the conference finals, their regular season match-up has shown why these teams are considered made for each other; they split their regular season series, 2-2 with the home team always coming out on top.
Miami vs. Indiana – 2013-2014 NBA Regular Season: April 11, 2014 – Heat defeated Pacers, 98-86 March 26, 2014 – Pacers defeated Heat, 84-83 December 18, 2013 – Heat defeated Pacers, 97-94 December 10, 2013 – Pacers defeated Heat, 90-84
Will Indiana use that homecourt advantage to finally upend the two-time champions?
Miami vs. Indiana – Recent History in the Postseason 2012 – Heat defeated the Pacers, 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals 2013 – Heat defeated the Pacers, 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals
Player-for-player, Indiana has the goods to match-up against James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Lance Stephenson is the wild card but can be a net positive if he can control his game and emotions. David West is the reliable veteran and stabilizer of the team while George Hill knows how to be effective as well.
Question for the Pacers is, which Roy Hibbert will show up? The one who have dominated the Heat in past meetings or the one who looked lost, most times, against the Hawks and Wizards in this postssason?
For the Heat, they already know what to do: ride LeBron until his knees fall off. Then again, Bosh and Wade has to send more help especially with an improved Pacers squad. Will the King get enough support in his mission for a rare three-peat?
Betting Lines: Miami Heat (-2.5) vs. Indiana Pacers (O/U: 181.5) Game time: 5:30 am AEDT
Betting Against the Spread (ATS)
Miami Heat Trends - The Heat are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games - The Heat are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after more than three days of rest - The Heat are 3-3 ATS in their last 6 games vs. Indiana
Indiana Pacers Trends - The Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after a two-day rest - The Pacers are 11-23-1 ATS in their last 35 games vs. East teams - The Pacers are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games at home