Crunch Time Owned by Miami
For the last two games, the Pacers have put themselves in a position to win the game. However for whatever reason, be it fatigue, lack of focus, or just plain greatness getting in the way, the Heat have taken over the final few minutes of the last two games, and it has led them to victory both SU and ATS. After cashing with the Heat in Game 3, the NBA Odds once again favor them at -6, with a total of 183 points. This is kind of a must-win for both teams if you think about it. The Heat do not want to give up home court advantage with the series going back to Indiana after Monday night, and obviously the Pacers do not want to face elimination this early in the series.
That should make this a pretty contested game, however I am still backing the Heat at home tonight. It seems they have figured out a rotation that hurts the Pacers more than Indiana’s big lineup hurts them back. With Indiana refusing to downsize almost at all costs, the Heat went super small at times with Dwyane Wade at the three, Lebron James at the four, and either Chris Anderson or Chris Bosh at the five, along with Norris Cole and Ray Allen. The problem with this lineup for the Pacers is everyone can shoot the ball, and there are some matchup issues riddles throughout the lineup.
Cole is much to quick for George Hill, who was in foul trouble all throughout Game 3, and with that lineup, David West is forced to run around and chase Allen off screens, which is wearing him out enough that he wasn’t a huge factor offensively in Game 3 (5-8, 13 points in 35 minutes). Along with Paul George not getting much offensively due to being guarded by one of the league’s best defenders, the Pacers are in a tight spot. They are not good enough offensively to take advantage of the Heat’s small lineup, and I think it leads to another Heat cover.
The Sharp Pick
The Heat are now 2-1 ATS in this series, and they are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall against the Pacers dating back to the end of the regular season. While Indiana will likely keep this game close through three quarters, I see Miami taking control once again in the final 12 minutes and getting the win and cover. The Pacers cannot defend Miami through all four quarters, and even if they do, it severely limits their offense to the point where Miami can still break through. These games are going to continue to be wars of attrition, and if it’s a mentally tough battle, the Heat will win that nine times out of ten.
Another factor that improved for the Heat when they went home was their three-point defense, and if those shots aren’t falling for Indiana again (6-21 in Game 3) this series will be over within the next two games. The Heat are not bad at defending the three-pointer, and if they play defense like they did in Game 3, the Pacers stand little chance in this one. Lay the points with Miami again.
My Pick: Heat -6