NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview: #1 Miami Heat vs #3 Indiana Pacers

2013 NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Finals
#1 Miami Heat vs #3 Indiana Pacers
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series price (Odds Courtesy of  Bovada) Heat -700 / Pacers +450
Game #1, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 8:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
American Airlines Arena – Miami, Florida
Opening Line: Miami -8 1/2
Current Line: Miami -8
Opening Total: 183 1/2
Current Total: 182
Opening Money Line: Heat -400 / Pacers +330
Current Money Line: Heat -425 / Pacers +355

Heat Pacers NBA Playoff Series Preview

Miami is a heavy favorite to win the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.

The Miami Heat won 66 games in the regular season and have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight year. However, the season will be a failure with anything less  than a second straight championship. The Heat have gone 45-3 in their last 48 games dating back to February 1. Miami swept the #8 seeded Milwaukee Bucks winning each game by double digits. The Heat were then upset  in game one of the conference semifinals by the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were playing without star players Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and Derrick Rose, but still managed the upset in game one on the road. Miami would win the next four games against the depleted Bulls including 94-91 in the close out game five last Wednesday. Next up is the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The winner will play either San Antonio Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies in the Finals next month.  The Spurs currently hold a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. 

The Pacers won the Central Division and were the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Indiana beat the #6 Atlanta Hawks in six games in the first round. The Pacers then upset the #2 seed New York Knicks in the conference semifinals also in six games.  The Pacers won game six Saturday night 106-99 in Indianapolis. The Pacers advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2004.

Indiana won two of the three meetings this year against Miami. The Pacers and Knicks were the only two teams to have a winning record against the Heat this season. The Pacers won 87-77 January 8 and February 1 102-89 both in Indianapolis. After that February game the Heat would then go on a 27 game winning streak, the second longest in NBA history. The winning streak included a 105-91 win against the Pacers in Miami March 10. Miami and Indiana played last year in the conference semifinals. The Pacers took a 2-1 series lead in a very physical series. Miami would win 3 straight games to take the series en route to their second NBA title in franchise history. The Heat played most of that series without Chris Bosh who suffered a strained pectoral muscle in game one against the Pacers.

Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. The Pacers are 50-43 ATS and the total is 44-47-2 this season. The Pacers are outscoring teams 95-91 this season. Indiana is second in the league in points allowed and #23 in scoring. The Pacers are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.7% from 3 point range. Indiana is 22nd or worse in both categories. The Pacers make 74.6% of their free throws. Indiana leads the league in rebounding at 45.8 per game, and are #8 in rebounds allowed at 40.9. Indiana opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 32.7% from 3 point range. The Pacers lead the league in both categories. Indiana averages 20.3 assists, 7.2 steals, 6.3 blocks, and 14.5 turnovers.

In the playoffs, forward Paul George is averaging 19.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Point guard George Hill is averaging 15.6 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. He missed game 5 against the Knicks with a concussion but did play in game 6. Forward David West is averaging 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He is probable with a lower leg injury. Center Roy Hibbert is averaging 14 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He is probable with a thumb injury. Lance Stephenson, Gerald Green, D.J. Augustin, and Tyler Hansbrough make up the rest of the rotation. The Pacers have played the entire season without all-star forward Danny Granger.

Miami is coached by Eric Spoelstra. The Heat are 51-39 ATS this season and the total is 45-43-2. Miami is outscoring teams 103-95 this season. The Heat are #5 in scoring and in points allowed. Miami is shooting 49.6% from the field and 39.6% from 3 point range. The Heat lead the league in field goal shooting and are #2 in 3 point shooting. Miami makes 75.4% of their free throws. The Heat are last in the league in rebounding at 38.6 per game, and fourth in rebounds allowed with 40.1. Miami opponents are shooting 44% from the field and 35% from 3 point range. Miami is 11th or better in both categories. The Heat average  23 assists, 8.7 steals, 5.4 blocks, and 13.3 turnovers per game.

In the playoffs, forward LeBron James is averaging 24 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.7 steal per game. He won his fourth MVP award. Guard Dwyane Wade is averaging a playoff career low 13 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He is battling a bruised knee that won’t heal until the offseason. Forward/center Chris Bosh averages 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds,  1.6 assists, and 2 blocks per game. Guard Ray Allen averages 12.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Point guard Mario Chalmers averages 7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. The breakout star of the playoffs for Miami has been Norris Cole. The point guard is averaging 8.8 points a game. Forward Shane Battier averages 5.6 points and 2 rebounds. Rashard Lewis,  Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, and Chris Andersen make up the rest of the rotation.

Indiana is 8-2 ATS in Wednesday games, 6-2 against teams with winning records, overall, and against Eastern Conference  teams, 11-4 on 3 or more days rest, 2-6 in road games, and against teams with winning home records. The over is 5-1 in the last 6 in this series.

Miami is 6-0 ATS after failing to cover, 13-4 overall, and against Eastern Conference teams, 9-3 against Central Division teams, 11-4 after a straight up win, 10-4 on 3 or more days rest, and 5-2 against teams with losing road records. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five in this series.

Earlier this week Indiana coach Vogel said Miami was “just another team in our way.” The Heat took that as a sign of disrespect. I think the Heat will use that as motivation. Indiana is a very tough defensive team and could create problems for the Heat, especially down low where Miami has no one that can guard Roy Hibbert. By the same token Indiana can’t stop Lebron either. Still, I think the Heat are on a mission. The Heat win in 5 games but every game will be competitive.

 

 

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