Bet Heat to 'Cover' vs. Pacers in Game 1

Steven Suarez

Sunday, May 18, 2014 2:13 PM GMT

Sunday, May. 18, 2014 2:13 PM GMT

The rematch has arrived. After a grueling seven-game series in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers get their shot at revenge, only this time they have home-court advantage. Read on for our free NBA picks for Game 1 tonight.

Odds Overview
We're still waiting for the first time the Heat will be classified as underdogs in the NBA betting boards. It's not today, as they're favored by 2.5 to 3 points for Game 1 in Indiana. Miami has gone 6-3 ATS in the postseason so far, with Indiana at 7-6 ATS. 

The total for this afternoon is at either 181 or 181.5, depending on the sportsbook.


Miami Heat
The Nets presented a little more of a challenge for the Heat, but it still was clear who the vastly superior team was throughout. 

Miami won each of their three games at home (107-86, 94-82, and 96-94), the last of which was the series-clincher. They took Game 4 on the road (102-96) after losing by 14 in Game 3 at the Barclays Center and they've now gone 3-1 both SU and ATS in four road games in the playoffs so far.

Individually, LeBron James continues to amaze. He's averaged a whopping 39.9 minutes per game and has put up averages of 30.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 4.7 APG while shooting 56.4 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from three and 81.0 percent from the line.

He's gotten some help from Dwyane Wade (17.9 PPG, 4.0 APG and 3.6 RPG) and Chris Bosh (14.6 RPG and 5.6 RPG), but we all know who's at the center of practically every good thing Miami has been doing on the court.

In terms of personnel for the conference finals, we're interested to see what kind of rotation changes will be made to deal with Indiana's size inside. LeBron has already come out and said Udonis Haslem, who was rested for the Brooklyn series, will start Game 1, so we'll see how that pans out for the two-time defending champions.


Indiana Pacers
The Pacers sure haven't made things easy on themselves, but at least they've shown resiliency to shrug off the disappointments and get back to the Eastern Conference Finals.

After barely surviving against Atlanta in the first round, Indiana was in serious danger again versus Washington, only to turn things around by winning all three road games in the nation's capital to seal up the series 4-2.

Once again Paul George led the way for the Pacers. He's averaged 21.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG  3.8 APG and 2.3 SPG through the first two rounds, with David West (14.6 PPG), Lance Stephenson (13.5 PPG) and George Hill (12.4 APG) also averaging in double figures.

However, Roy Hibbert continues to struggle and that's not a good sign ahead of this matchup with the Heat. We all know how dominant he looked against Miami last year, so they really need him playing at a high level, starting with Game 1 today.

Indiana has to be somewhat concerned about their play at home throughout the playoffs. They've gone just 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS in seven games inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

[gameodds]5/291352/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Game 1 Pick
While the Heat have only played nine times in the playoffs, sweeping Charlotte and then taking care of Brooklyn in five games, the Pacers have already been very busy, needing the full seven games against Atlanta and then six to overcome Washington. 

Miami should have the fresher legs and they've had more time to rest up and come up with some new sets for this showdown with Indiana.

And, when it comes down to making our final NBA picks, we simply have to take the Heat. They've been the far easier team to trust throughout the playoffs, with the Pacers showcasing a maddening inconsistency. We think Miami will come out and make an early statement in this series, grabbing the home-court advantage back in a hurry.

Pick: Heat -2.5

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