NBA Thursday

49e4d72fc3a270ae34e6bbbb679734f0INDIANA PACERS at MIAMI HEAT Line: Miami -7.5 & 186

The Pacers look to go up 3-2 with another road win over the Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at American Airlines Arena on Thursday night.

Indiana came out flat in Game 3 and was crushed 114-96, but in Game 4 the club gave Miami everything it had and prevailed by a score of 99-92. C Roy Hibbert led the way with 23 points and 12 boards, while LeBron James picked up a questionable sixth foul with under a minute remaining. So far in the playoffs, the Pacers are 11-5 ATS (69%), including 3-1 ATS in the East Finals. Although they won Game 2 on the road, they have not been a good road bet this season, going 24-24 ATS and 22-26 SU. However, the Heat are just 7-6 ATS this postseason and 24-24 ATS at home, despite a 42-6 SU mark. Miami has been resilient after losses this season though, going 15-3 SU and 12-6 ATS (67%) and outscoring these teams by 11.7 PPG. Indiana has struggled to string together win streaks, going 32-26 SU and 27-31 ATS (47%) following an SU win this season.

The Pacers’ offense continues to be a roller coaster. Although the team has scored between 96 and 102 points in all four games in this series, the team has shot 44.6% FG, 50.0% FG, 39.7% FG and 50.0% FG in the East Finals. But the defense was also superb on Tuesday, holding Miami to a series-low 39.0% shooting. C Roy Hibbert (22.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG in series) posted his third straight double-double by making 10-of-16 shots and grabbing six offensive rebounds. Hibbert is now averaging 16.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 2.1 BPG throughout the entire postseason. The second leading scorer for Indiana was SG Lance Stephenson (11.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG in series), who continued his breakout postseason with 20 points (9-of-15 FG) and five rebounds in 41 minutes. He has 15.0 PPG on 48% FG in two wins this series, but just 7.0 PPG on 20% FG (4-of-20) in the two defeats. Stephenson led all players with a +14 rating on Tuesday. PG George Hill (15.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.8 RPG in series) also played a strong game on Tuesday, scoring 19 points (9-of-10 FT) for the second straight game, while also contributing six assists and five rebounds. Hill was doing a great job of getting into the lane where he was able to draw fouls at will. PF David West (18.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG in series) had his second straight double-double with 14 points (5-of-11 FG) and 12 rebounds in Game 4, but the Pacers could definitely afford to get him some more touches in the post. SF Paul George (18.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.0 RPG in series) is going to need to find his shot in this series if the Pacers are really going to have a chance to pull this thing out. After making 3-of-10 shots in Game 3, George struggled again with just 12 points (4-of-10 FG, 0-for-4 threes) on Tuesday. He did have his best defensive game though, pulling down eight rebounds and two blocks, both of which were series highs.

After making at least 46% of their FG tries for seven straight contests, the Heat shot horribly in Game 4, making just 39.0% FG, which led to them getting crushed on the boards 49-30. They were also dominated in terms of points in the paint, where they were outscored 50-32. The one positive is that Miami made 24-of-27 free throws (89%) and committed just six turnovers, giving the team a total of 11 turnovers in the past two games combined. Despite the poor shooting, the Heat were in position to win Game 4 late. SF LeBron James (28.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.3 APG in series) led the Heat in scoring with 24 points (8-of-18 FG, 4-of-7 threes) while adding six rebounds, five assists and three blocks, but he also fouled out late in the game on a moving screen violation. It was just the second time in 128 career playoff games that he fouled out, but not before tallying his seventh straight 20-point game. PF Chris Bosh (14.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG in series) had his worst game of the playoff so far, scoring just seven points (1-of-6 FG, 1-of-3 threes) with three rebounds in 30 minutes. For the series, Bosh has more fouls (14) than total rebounds (13). SG Dwyane Wade (16.8 PPG, 6.0 APG, 4.8 RPG in series) also struggled from the field on his way to a 16-point (5-of-15 FG) and 6-assist night. He is still clearly bothered by a knee injury, as he was limping at parts during the game. Wade averaged 21.2 PPG on 52% FG in the regular season, but has just 14.3 PPG on 46% FG in the postseason, failing to score 20 points in each of the past 11 contests. One player who stepped up for Miami was PG Mario Chalmers (12.5 PPG, 3.0 APG in series), who finished the game with 20 points (6-of-14 FG) after hitting all eight of his free-throw attempts in the game. He also had his second turnover-free game, which is a big reason why he posted a team-best +11 rating on Tuesday. The Heat really could have used a big game from SG Ray Allen (6.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG in series) off the bench on a night where their starters struggled. Allen, however, was just as cold as the starters, as he finished the game with a very inefficient 11 points (4-of-13 FG, 2-of-7 threes) in 32 minutes. But he did lead the team in rebounding with seven boards. Reserve SF Chris Andersen (8.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG in series) still hasn’t missed a shot in five straight games (15-of-15 FG), but he also failed to attempt a shot in Game 4, grabbing a mere two rebounds and posting a game-worst rating of minus-11 in his 19 minutes.

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