NBA Eastern Conference Showdown: Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat

Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat
AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, Florida

Friday, April 11, 2014, 7:35 pm Eastern, TV: NBA TV, FSN-Indiana, SunSports
Opening Line: Miami -5 1/2
Current Line: Miami -6
Opening Total: 182 1/2
Current Total: 182 1/2
Opening Money Line: Heat -215 / Pacers +182
Current Money Line: Heat -250 / Pacers +210 

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The Heat and Pacers battle Friday night in Miami with first place in the Eastern Conference on the line.

The 54-25 Indiana Pacers and 53-25 Miami Heat have been the two best teams in the Eastern Conference by far this season. However, both teams have struggled down the stretch as the regular season winds down. Miami has gone 10-11 in their last 21 games and Indiana is 8-12 in the last 20 games. The two teams complete the season series Friday night in Miami. Indiana leads Miami by a half game for the #1 seed in the Eastern playoffs which start next weekend.

Indiana has won 2 of 3 games against Miami this season. A Pacer win Friday would give them the tiebreaker and also put them a game and a half up on the Heat. The Pacers won in Indianapolis 90-84 December 10 and 84-83 March 26. After that March 26 game, the Pacers led the Heat by 3 games for the best record in the East. However, Indiana has gone 2-5 since that game. Miami’s win in the series came at home 97-94 December 18. Miami and Indiana played a tense 7 game series last season in the Eastern Conference Finals, in which Miami won en route to to their second straight NBA title.

Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. After an embarrassing blowout loss at the Atlanta Hawks last Sunday, Vogel benched all five of his starters for the Pacers’ next game at the NBA’s worst team the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night. Indiana won 104-102 on a driving lay-up by Chris Copeland with 1.2 seconds left. The win snapped a 2 game losing streak for the Pacers. Indiana is 36-42-1 ATS and the total is 33-44-2.

Indiana is outscoring teams 97-92 this season. The Pacers are #24 in scoring and #2 in points allowed. Indiana is shooting 44.7% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. The Pacers are #18 or worse in both categories. Indiana is #6 in free throw shooting making 77.9% from the line. Opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Pacers lead the league in field goal defense and are #4 in 3 point defense. Indiana averages 44.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 41.3 per game. The Pacers are #7 in both categories. Indiana average 20 assists, 15 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 5.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 18.7 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 7.1 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

Forward Paul George averages 21.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Guard Lance Stephenson averages 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Forward David West averages 13.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Center Roy Hibbert  averages 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game. Point guard George Hill averages 10.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1 steal per game. Luis Scola, Evan Turner, C.J. Watson, and Ian Mahinmi will also get significant minutes. Center Andrew Bynum is out indefinitely with a knee injury. He has only played in two games since being picked up off waivers in December.

Miami is coached by Eric Spoelstra. The Heat have been a little inconsistent due to boredom waiting for the playoffs to begin, and due to some nagging injuries to key players namely Dwyane Wade. He has missed the last eight games due to a hamstring injury, and is questionable tonight. The Heat have lost 3 of their last 4 games, including 2 straight. The Heat lost at the Memphis Grizzlies 107-102 Wednesday night. Miami is 36-40-2 ATS and the total is 42-36.

Miami is outscoring teams 103-97 this season. The Heat are #12 in scoring and #6 in points allowed. Miami is shooting 50.4% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. The Heat lead the league in field goal percentage. Miami makes 76.1% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 45.5% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. The Heat average 36.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 40.5 per game. Miami is last in the league in rebounding and #2 in rebounds allowed. The Heat average 22.8 assists, 14.7 turnovers, 8.9 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.1 assists, 16.7 turnovers, 8 steals and 3.1 blocks per game.

Miami forward LeBron James is having another stellar season. James averages 27 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Wade averages 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Center Chris Bosh averages 16.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, a steal and a block per game. Point guard Mario Chalmers averages 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Ray Allen averages 9.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole, Rashard Lewis, and Shane Battier will also get significant minutes. Haslem is questionable with a stomach virus. Andersen is questionable with a knee injury. Center Greg Oden is questionable with a back injury.

Indiana is 16-34-1 ATS overall, 8-21 after a straight-up win, 7-19-1 when the opponent allowed 100 points or more in the previous game, 7-21-1 against Eastern Conference teams, 6-20 in road games, 5-21 on one day rest, 3-13 against teams with winning records, 1-6 in Friday games and after allowing 100 points or more, 2-12 after scoring 100 points or more, 1-10 when the opponent scored 100 points or more in the previous game, 0-5 after a cover, 0-5-1 against Southeast Division teams, and 0-7 against teams with winning home records. Five of the last six games in this series have gone under the total.

Miami is 4-0 ATS against Central Division teams, 6-1 against Eastern Conference teams, 4-1 against teams with winning road records, 5-2 on one day rest, 2-5 when the opponent scores and allows 100 points or more in the previous game. The over is 5-2 in the last 7 games in Miami in this series. The home team has covered 5 of the last 7 games in this series.

It will be interesting to see if the night off for the starters against Milwaukee Wednesday will light a fire under the listless Pacers. They really haven’t been the same since Danny Granger was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner. Granger was the glue on this team. Miami’s biggest problem is injuries. Miami would like to have the #1 seed but they don’t need it as much as Indiana does. Still I think Miami wins a close game with huge games from LeBron and Bosh.

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