Could we be a few games from seeing the end of the Big 3 era in Miami?
That’s doubtful, but if the Heat flame out in this Eastern Conference semifinal series as one-time huge favorites against the Indiana Pacers, you can bet that the calls will come to trade one of the Big 3. Certainly LeBron James isn’t going anywhere and the past two games – both losses – have shown how important Chris Bosh is. So could Dwyane Wade be the one to go?
After all, Wade is the elder statesman at 30, and his numbers were all down from his career marks this season. Plus, Wade appears to be starting to break down physically, and the Heat were 14-3 during the season when he was sidelined.
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Should the Heat lose this series the team probably will keep the Big 3 together for one more run because playing without Bosh would be a solid excuse for this season’s failure. But perhaps trading Wade for a big-time center is something to ponder. Rumors of Pat Riley perhaps canning Head Coach Erik Spoelstra and returning to coaching next season also will be prevalent.
If Miami loses Sunday’s Game 4, it probably is toast as only eight teams in NBA playoff history have won a series after trailing 3-1.
Heat at Pacers Betting Story Lines
I wasn’t surprised at all that the Pacers won Game 3 at home, but the 94-75 final score shook the NBA to its core. With no Bosh down low to guard him or force him to exert much effort on the defensive end, Pacers all-star center Roy Hibbert was dominant Thursday with 19 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Indiana outrebounded the smaller Heat, 52-36, and held Miami to just 37.2 percent shooting.
Without Bosh, the Heat won’t win unless they get about 60 points combined from LeBron and Wade. In Game 3, they combined for 27 – in fact, Miami’s leading scorer was Mario Chalmers with 25. Let me say that again: Miami’s leading scorer was Mario Chalmers. To add insult to injury, Chalmers fell on his wrist late in the game but X-rays were negative. James had 22 points but clearly is being worn down by playing power forward – he has said as much – and had just six points after halftime as Indiana outscored Miami 51-32 in the second half.
But by far the most stunning aspect of Game 3 was Wade’s five points on 2-for-13 shooting to go along with five turnovers (he was scoreless in the first half for the first time in his playoff career). Over the past five years of the playoffs, only one other NBA player who had averaged at least 22 points during that regular season had a playoff game in which he shot for such a low percentage (minimum: 10 field goal attempts). That other player was LeBron, by the way.
Wade has been relegated to a jump shooter as 11 of those 13 shots came from at least 10 feet out. His two field-goal attempts from inside 10 feet were his fewest all season and second-fewest in his playoff career. Wade also had a very public confrontation with Spoelstra during a timeout in the third quarter. The Pacers were in the midst of a 17-3 run when the timeout was called. Spoelstra said it was just one of those things after the game, while Wade wouldn’t speak about it.
Reports have surfaced that Wade is dealing with lingering injuries that forced him to miss several games late in the regular season. He has gotten treatment in recent days for knee and leg soreness and hasn’t practiced fully. Remember, too, that Wade missed a seemingly easy layup late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 that would've tied the game. He is shooting 31 percent overall in this series and is having massive trouble against 6-foot-10 Paul George.
The Heat canceled practice Friday. Perhaps that was just because the team has an extra day off before Sunday’s Game 4. Or maybe it was because no one wanted to answer all of the Wade/Spoelstra questions.
Indiana already has the size and depth advantages, so if the Heat can’t get LeBron and Wade out in transition this series won’t last much longer. The Heat scored 10 transition points and were just 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) in transition in Game 3. Miami has been outscored 47-42 in transition in the first three games against Indiana, which isn’t even a running team. And Miami’s three-point shooters aren’t helping LeBron and Wade, either, as the Heat are 5-of-42 from three-point range in the series.
Heat at Pacers Betting Odds and Key Trends
Incidentally, Miami (10/3) is no longer the NBA title favorite at Bovada. San Antonio (7/4) and Oklahoma City (2/1) have passed the Heat, who have dropped to 5/4 to win the East, barely ahead of Boston (2/1).
The Heat have opened as 1.5-point favorites for Game 4 with the total at 178.5 on NBA odds. Miami was 14-19 ATS on the road during the season and 15-16-2 on ‘over/under’. In playoffs: 1-2 and 0-3. Pacers were 15-18 ATS at home during year and 16-16-1 O/U. In playoffs: 3-1 and 1-3.
NBA Picks: Heat at Pacers Betting Predictions
It’s hard to go against the Pacers here considering they have won their past three home playoff games by a combined 52 points. I think Miami is coming unraveled. Spoelstra made a curious decision in Game 3, starting Dexter Pittman (who played 301 regular-season minutes) and Shane Battier. Pittman moved in for Ronny Turiaf, while Battier started over struggling Udonis Haslem. That seems like a panic move.
Perhaps the extra day off helps Wade, but it’s clear he’s not 100 percent. Miami has lost six straight when scoring 86 points or less. And how do the Heat get over that number in their current state? So take the Pacers and the under, which has hit in all three games this series.
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