Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
And so, in the Eastern Conference Finals we find ourselves with the matchup that most fans and analysts expected all season.
The Indiana Pacers faltered down the stretch of the 2013-14 season and struggled early in the playoffs, but appear to now have things fully together for a tough series against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Pacers have homecourt advantage in the series, but NBA oddsmakers favored the Heat by 3.5 points in game one odds.
Key in the series will be the play of Roy Hibbert. Hibbert turned in three scoreless, rebound-less games in the playoffs, but inexplicably got things together towards the end of the series against Washington. He’s typically been great against the Miami Heat, and the Pacers will rely on having that advantage at the 5-spot.
Always crucial will be the way that Pacers coach Frank Vogel deals with LeBron James. Expect Paul George to draw plenty of the work, but Vogel may experiment with David West at times, and there will be plenty of double teams. The Pacers are notorious for varying their double team schemes, so it should keep James guessing.
The 2-guard spot will be an interesting battle between the future and the past. Lance Stephenson has drawn comparisons to a young Dwyane Wade, but Wade is not going to let his banged up body keep him from competing at a high level; this is the Finals.
Wade has a chance to win his fourth championship in this postseason, and the Heat will use this series as a tune-up for what may be an eventual showdown with last seasons Western Conference opponent, San Antonio. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Indiana is a great defensive team, and if there is any team in the East that can have a chance to slow James and the Heat, it is the Pacers.
MIA Trends: 4-0 ATS in last 4 on 3 days rest; OVER 7-1 in last 8 on 3 days rest or more; OVER 5-1 in last 6 overall.
IND Trends: 1-9 ATS in last 10 home games vs teams with winning road records; 1-7 ATS in last 8 games following SU win of more than 10 points; OVER 4-1 in last 5 Sunday games.
Head-to-head: UNDER 5-2 in last 7 meetings; Heat 2-5 ATS in last 7 meetings in Indiana.