INDIANA PACERS at MIAMI HEAT
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Miami -6.5 & 182
After alternating wins for each of the first six games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat will host the Pacers in a decisive Game 7 on Monday hoping to reach the NBA Finals for a third straight season.
In Game 5, LeBron James was able to lead Miami to a victory despite the poor play of his teammates. In Game 6, the lack of a supporting cast caught up to the Heat, who had no player other than James eclipse 10 points, in a 91-77 loss at Indiana. The well-balanced Pacers had four scorers in double-figures, including three who scored at least 16 points. They certainly played with more heart and passion on Saturday too, as they out-rebounded their opponent by a total of 20 boards (53 to 33). Indiana as a team also totaled 19 assists while the Heat shot a season-worst 36.1% FG and totaled only 10 assists, while committing 13 turnovers. So far in the playoffs, the Pacers are 12-6 ATS (67%), including 4-2 ATS in the East Finals. Although they won Game 2 at AmericanAirlines Arena, they have not been a good road bet this season, going 24-25 ATS and 22-27 SU. However, Miami is just 8-7 ATS this postseason and 25-24 ATS at home during the 2012-13 campaign, despite a 43-6 SU mark. The Heat have been resilient after losses this season though, going 16-3 SU and 13-6 ATS (68%) and outscoring these teams by 11.7 PPG. Indiana has struggled to string together win streaks though, going 32-27 SU and 27-32 ATS (46%) following an SU win this season.
The Pacers came played a spectacular game on Saturday, shutting down every single Heat player with the exception of LeBron James. SF Paul George (21.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.3 APG in series) was unstoppable all evening on his way to a playoff career-high 28 points (3-of-5 threes), eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. C Roy Hibbert (22.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG in series) continued to dominate the paint against Miami with 24 points (11-of-20 FG) and 11 rebounds in 42 minutes. Hibbert drew a huge charge on LeBron James late in the fourth that sparked a technical foul on James that ultimately took the Heat out of the game once and for all. PG George Hill (13.0 PPG, 4.7 APG in series) played his best game of the series as he found his teammates for six assists while also scoring 16 points (6-of-12 FG, 2-of-4 threes) with a +12 rating in 43 minutes. Backcourt mate SG Lance Stephenson (8.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.0 APG in series) didn’t look for his shot (1-for-4 FG), but tallied 12 boards, four assists and a +18 rating. Stephenson and Hill combined for just five points in Game 5, so their improvement was a game changer for Indiana. PF David West (17.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG in series) had a quiet night offensively with 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but he did have a game-high 14 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a +18 rating in 36 minutes.
Miami was struggling all evening, and besides LeBron James’ 29 points (10-for-21 FG), the rest of the team shot 31.4% from the field, with the highest scorers for the Heat being PG Mario Chalmers and SG Dwyane Wade, who each had just 10 points. In addition to his scoring outburst, James (28.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 5.5 APG in series) also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists in 42 minutes, but still posted a game-worst rating of minus-22. He has shined in Game 7’s in his career, averaging 34.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG in three such series cappers. Wade made just 3-of-11 FG in 34 minutes while also expressing his desire to touch the ball more after the game. Over the past three contests, Wade (14.5 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.5 RPG in series) is a dreadful 11-of-34 from the floor (38% FG). PF Chris Bosh (11.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG in series) has also struggled mightily for Miami as he had just five points (1-of-8 FG) and four rebounds in 31 minutes in Game 6. Bosh has combined to tally just 19 points and 12 rebounds over the course of the last three games. Chalmers (12.0 PPG, 3.0 APG in series) scored 10 points on 3-of-8 FG, but provided little else for Miami throughout the course of the game, with zero assists, two rebounds, two turnovers and a minus-17 rating. PF Udonis Haslem (7.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG in series) exploded in Game 5 with 16 points on 8-of-9 FG, but was scoreless on Saturday, going 0-for-2 from the field and piling up four fouls in just 16 minutes of action. Miami was missing PF Chris Andersen (7.2 PPG on 15-of-15 FG in series), who was suspended for Game 6 after his cheap shot on Tyler Hansbrough, and his energy in Game 7 could give the Heat a much-needed boost.