The Miami Heat find themselves in a situation that they might not have expected. They’re currently tied 2-2 with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Pacers are coming off of a strong performance in which King James was being targeted.
Tip-off for game 5 is on Thursday at 8:30 pm ET at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. This game can be seen on TNT.
A “Must Win” for Miami?
The NBA odds certainly say so as the Heat are a 7.5 point betting favorite and the total is 185.5.
You figure the total to be a bit higher, but with a stifling Indiana Pacers defense that occasionally triple teams Lebron James, we see why the total is listed so low even with the offensive power of Miami.
This is a game that Miami really needs. They don’t want to go back to a hostile Bankers Life Arena crowd being down 3-2. That said, a team with Lebron James on it can come back from any deficit; this game is a crucial game regardless.
Where do we think the edge lies when it comes time to place our NBA picks in a critical Game 5.
Miami might have the better known personalities and the stronger stars, but the Pacers seem to have a deeper team and a young upstart in Paul George. Lebron James still managed 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in a 99-92 loss to the Pacers in game 4, but make no mistake about it, the Pacers defense was keying in on him and it was bothering the best player on the planet.
Luckily for Miami, Mario Chalmers stepped up with a huge performance. The Heat need Dwayne Wade to get more involved in the offense. With 7 foot 2 almost 300 pound Roy Hibbert in the middle, this makes for a tough matchup for Chris Bosh and Miami is forced to rely on Lebron driving to the hoop with reckless abandon.
Wade still has his moments, but he needs to show why he’s regarded as one of the all-time greats. Indiana has a power, size, and youth advantage on the Heat. Look for the Heat to adjust in game 5.
A Coaching Edge?
The coach doesn’t play the game but he guides the players. Frank Vogel has been a huge part of Indiana’s success. Along with Charles Barkley, I’m impressed with his style of coaching. In game 3, the Pacers let Miami run all over them for a certain period of the game and that was the difference. Vogel played the tape, stayed silent, and you saw the swarming Pacers defense in Game 4. The coach gets a lot of the credit here.
Well Rounded Starting 5
Paul George didn’t have to have a huge game in game 4 because he’s surrounded by talent. During the season, George took control of the offense, but you see if he takes a step back, players like George Hill and Roy Hibbert become huge contributors.
Another Great Georgetown Center
After his recent performances, you can include Roy Hibbert into Georgetown fraternity of centers from Ewing, to Mourning to Mutombo to Hibbert.
Hibbert has something that no other player has and that’s massive size to go along with a soft touch. Sometimes measurements are exaggerated in the NBA, but in Roy Hibbert’s case, he’s a “tree”. A big center such as a Shaquille O’Neal or Roy Hibbert is going to congest the middle and give opposing offenses trouble.
Hibbert has also been a force on the offensive end. In the Miami series, he’s averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds per game. This is double his seasonal average. Miami isn’t a large team and this is a great matchup for Hibbert.
What to Expect?
Expect more of the same, but Miami has the experience edge and along with the best player on the planet in Lebron James; this will win them game 5. That said, 7.5 points are a lot and this game will be close. Take the Pacers and the points.