NBA Picks: Heat vs. Pacers

Joe Catalano

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 1:26 PM GMT

Lebron James and the Eastern Conference leading Miami Heat (23-9) travel to the Midwest to face the formidable Indiana Pacers (20-14) and Paul George. This should be a competitive game as both teams are playoff bound. Does Indy have enough firepower to knock off the defending NBA Champs?

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET on Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The NBA odds makers at 5 Dimes Sportsbook are listing Miami as a 3 point betting favorite on the road and the total for the game is 187.

Will Indiana be able to keep the score down to have a better chance at victory? The Pacers rank 2nd in the league, allowing just 89.8 points per game, but also rank 29th in the league in points per game at 91.4 points per game.

Can the Pacers stop the best player in the world in Lebron James, and should we look at the total or the spread for our NBA picks tonight?

[gameodds]5/133804/19-43-999996-1096-238-93/us[/gameodds]

Best player in the world!

It's safe to say that Lebron James is the best basketball player on this planet. At 28 years of age, James in his prime and he is coming off of an NBA Championship run that also earned him the League MVP award. It doesn't get much better than that. NBA betting lines also list Miami as the odds on favorite to win the title again this season.  

The Lakers were thought of as a possible obstacle, but they're a flat-out disaster and a soap opera, sitting 3 games under .500.

There's no need to mention numbers where Lebron James is concerned. This is a player that could put up 40 points every night, but team chemistry is more important and trying to fit into the team dynamic. Thus far, the "Big 3" has been a big success. 

Dwayne on the decline 

There's no doubt that Dwayne Wade's game has fallen into a slump. This is partially due to injuries and Wade is getting old with playoff time included. Wade at 80% is still better than most of the players in the NBA. Head coach, Eric Spoelstra, has a recipe for the Miami Heat success; Keep either Wade or James on the court at all times unless the game is in the bag. 

Workhorses 

The Heat finally found the missing ingredient to add to team depth. Ray Allen might be old and not the same player that he once was, but his work ethic is 2nd to none before game time. Along with players Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem, the bench is full of energetic players that can rebound and defend. Allen adds the offense with his 11.6 points per game and 46.7% from 3 point range. 

The Miami Heat are unstoppable.

Major obstacle 

At a legitimate 7 foot 2, 280 pounds, center Roy Hibbert, can cause some major problems for the Heat on the defensive end. The problem is that Hibbert is an inconsistent player that a team can't count on to "bring it" every single game. Just Hibbert's presence alone clogs up the middle. If Hibbert can raise his game against the best team in the NBA, there could be some problems for Miami. 

Hibbert is averaging a disappointing 9.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game, but is coming off of a game against Milwaukee in which he had 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a victory. The Pacers need something close to these type of numbers as Hibbert squares off against Chris Bosh. 

Slumping

If I wrote this article 3 games ago, I would've told you that Paul George has been Indiana's most reliable and productive player this season. I still say that, but with a little less confidence. George is averaging just 8.5 points in his last 2 games, and while he can suit other purposes, the Pacers need his offense against the best basketball team in the world. 

Outcome

The point spread is only 3 because the Pacers are a very good basketball team. I did tell you that Miami gets bored at times, but they should be up for a game against a good team like this. 3 points isn't enough to deter me away from the defending champs. Take the Heat and lay the 3 points.

NBA Pick: Miami -3 at 5 Dimes