NBA Playoffs Odds and Pick: Heat at Pacers Game 6 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/23/2012
Remind me not to bet against the favorites in these NBA Playoffs any longer. Not including Wednesday night’s Game 6 between the Celtics and 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the favorites are 7-1-1 ATS and have won all nine games straight up since last Friday (Pacers over Celtics in Game 4 and Lakers over Thunder in Game 3 out West started the run). The only ATS loss came on Sunday when the Spurs beat the Clippers by three points to finish off a sweep. That was only San Antonio’s second ATS loss during its incredible 18-game winning streak.
The Miami Heat were one of those favorites to cover in their Game 5 East semis home matchup Tuesday night against the Indiana Pacers with a 115-83 blowout that put the Heat a win from a second straight trip to the conference finals. Frankly, the Pacers look done. Their one chance to win this series came when they had a 2-1 series edge and 10-point home lead in the third quarter of Game 4. Then LeBron James and Dwyane Wade completely took over and they haven’t stopped. It’s almost like the Heat flipped a switch, while the young Pacers just don’t know what to do. Their season likely ends Thursday night in Game 6 back in Indianapolis.
Heat at Pacers Betting Story Lines
Game 5 was never really in doubt. LeBron and Wade combined for 58 points, but the Heat also saw Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem finish in double figures. Miami shot an incredible 61.4 percent from the field -- the best mark for any playoff team since the Orlando Magic in Game 3 of the 2009 Finals -- and continued the trend that the team that wins the rebounding battle wins in this series as Miami had 49 boards to Indiana’s 35 (Heat point guard Mario Chalmers somehow had 11). Again, remember that this is without Chris Bosh, who is officially out for Game 6.
The Heat scored a postseason-high 29 transition points in Game 5 and are 6-0 this postseason when scoring at least 14 transition points. In their losses, Miami is averaging just 10.3 points in transition. The Pacers shot 33.7 percent, had just two fast-break points and suffered the worst playoff loss in franchise history. Indiana’s leading scorer was Paul George with only 11, and all-star center Roy HIbbert continued his disappearing act since Game 3 with just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting.
In addition, Pacers regular-season leading scorer Danny Granger injured his ankle twice in Game 5, leaving for good early in the second half with a sprain. It was 56-45 when Granger left for good, and the Heat stretched the margin to 18 points in three-plus minutes following his departure. Granger says he will play in Game 6 but had to be carted to the dressing room. He’s certainly questionable. David West also left with a knee injury but Coach Frank Vogel says he’s not worried about West.
The big story of Game 5 was the three flagrant fouls called, on Miami’s Haslem and Dexter Pittman and the Pacers’ Tyler Hansbrough. Look for Haslem, who has 24 points the past two games after just six total the first three, and Pittman to face suspensions for Game 6. Haslem will be missed, certainly, but Pittman doesn’t play much. Hansbrough should be in the clear since he was at least going for the ball when he hammered Wade; Haslem then clearly retaliated on Hansbrough on the next possession with a hard two-handed foul but wasn’t tossed from the game even though the intent was obvious. Pittman gave a forearm to the chin of seldom-used Pacer Lance Stephenson near the end of the game and I’m guessing Pittman gets multiple games as he was caught afterward winking on camera. It was no doubt payback for when Stephenson flashed the “choke” gesture at LeBron after James missed two key free throws late in Game 3.
It appears even Pacers president Larry Bird is frustrated with his club, saying, "I can't believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen." Of course, Bird is as old-school as they come. However, players can’t play anywhere near as physical now as when Bird did. Although through five games, the Pacers and Heat have combined for 234 personal fouls, including four flagrant-1 penalties in addition to five individual technical fouls.
Heat at Pacers Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami opened as a 3.5-point favorite with the total at 182 on NBA odds. The Heat were 14-19 ATS on road during season and 15-16-2 ‘over/under’ away. In playoffs: 2-2 and 1-3. Pacers were 15-18 ATS at home during season and 16-16-1 O/U. In playoffs: 3-2 and 2-3.
The Heat are 6-0 ATS in their past six games after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game. Indiana is 2-6 ATS in its past eight after a loss of at least 10 points in the previous game. The under has hit in 24 of Miami’s past 30 games on one day of rest. The under is 7-3 in Indiana’s past 10 after a loss of at least 10 points. The Heat are 5-2 ATS in their past seven visits to Indiana.
NBA Picks: Heat at Pacers Betting Predictions
The Pacers were supposed to have the better depth and big-time advantage at point guard in this series. But Miami’s Battier and Haslem, who didn’t do much of anything in the first round or in the first three games, have provided major boosts in the past two games. And at the point, Chalmers has neutralized Indiana point guards George Hill and Darren Collison in Games 3, 4 and 5. Plus, Indiana’s two best big men, Hibbert and West, have combined for 36 points in the past two games.
The Pacers are beaten up and look intimidated. And LeBron looks on a mission with 70 points, 26 rebounds and 17 assists in his past two games. I’m trying to come up with a reason to think the Pacers can cover but I can’t. Yeah, Haslem is the Heat’s best two-way inside player with Bosh out, but he’s still replaceable. Take Miami and the under.
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