Free NBA Picks: Heat at Pacers Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/9/2013
The NBA's Eastern Conference is a flat-out joke. The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat are a combined 34-8, and there's no other team with less than 10 losses. Toronto is just 1.5 games out of first place in the Atlantic Division -- Boston is in first! -- yet the Raptors just made a deal that makes them worse this season in shipping Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings. It was a salary dump and all but ensures the Raptors get into the lottery this season and a shot at Canadian Andrew Wiggins.
So there is no doubt that Indiana and Miami will be the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs and thus avoid each other until the conference finals like last season. And while it's only early December, Tuesday night's first meeting between the teams could be very important. The Heat proved last spring how vital home-court advantage is in the playoffs, winning Game 7s in south Florida against the Pacers and Spurs. Ditto a Game 7 in the 2012 conference finals against Boston. That's one thing LeBron James hasn't done yet: win a road Game 7. He may have to this season if the Pacers can hold off Miami for that top spot. Obviously the first tiebreaker should the teams end up tied would be head-to-head, so taking a 1-0 series lead could prove valuable. The teams play again Dec. 18 in Miami, March 26 in Indianapolis and April 11 in Miami.
Heat at Pacers Betting Story Lines
Miami has definitely had some puzzling losses to the Sixers, Nets, Celtics, Pistons and Bulls. Not a winning team among them. It's almost like the Heat don't care at times, and I do think they are mostly coasting through this regular season. Still, there's no excuse for allowing 107 points to both Detroit and Chicago last week. Then in typical Miami fashion, it got focused and routed Minnesota and Detroit in its next two games.
Look for Dwyane Wade to play in this game because it is a rare one for the Heat to get worked up about. Wade has sat out three of Miami's past four to rest up his knee (and for an illness), and it's unlikely you will see him play both ends of a back-to-back all season. The Heat simply want Wade as close to 100 percent as possible come playoff time. If that means losing the top seed, so be it. Wade has been good when on the court, averaging 18.5 points and shooting 53 percent from the field. Miami is 3-3 without him compared to 11-2 last season. Miami also played this weekend without Michael Beasley because of a hamstring, but that was just a precaution. He seems to have a good shot of playing Tuesday. Beasley, the No. 2 pick behind Derrick Rose in 2008, is having a bit of a career resurgence with his original club. He hasn't done anything stupid yet -- just wait -- and is averaging 11.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in only 17.6 minutes a night. It appears LeBron has been able to control Beasley and keep him in line just like Michael Jordan did with Dennis Rodman.
The Heat are still a terrible rebounding team, and it was Indiana's size that give Miami fits in last year's conference finals, specifically Roy Hibbert. He's a big reason why the Heat also took a chance on Greg Oden, who hasn't played yet and probably won't for a while. Indiana had an excellent win in San Antonio on Saturday -- I recommended taking the Pacers and the points there, although I thought Spurs would win -- but then were clearly gassed Sunday at the end of a five-game trip in getting blown out by Oklahoma City. Indy is 0-3 in the second of back-to-backs this year, which accounts for all its losses. The Pacers still have gotten next to nothing from injured Danny Granger, and he's not likely to return this week from his calf injury.
You won't find a better one-on-one matchup than Indiana's Paul George against LeBron. They are both on a short list of early-season MVP candidates. George is averaging 25.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals, while LeBron is at 25.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals. George beat out LeBron for the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November.
Heat at Pacers Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Indiana opened as a 3.5-point favorite with a total of 190.5. The Heat are 11-10 ATS (7-3 on road) and 12-9 “over/under” (6-4 on road). The Pacers are 15-6 ATS (6-3 at home) and 8-13 O/U (1-8 at home). Miami is 5-1 ATS in its past six after a win of at least 10 points. The Pacers are 5-0 in their past five after a loss of at least 10 points. They are 11-1 ATS in their past 12 after an ATS loss. The over is 7-1 in Miami's past eight Tuesday games. The under is 10-1 in Indiana's past 11 playing on one day of rest. The Heat are 1-4 ATS in their past five at Indiana. The over is 5-2 in the past seven there.
Free NBA Picks: Heat at Pacers Betting Predictions
This rivalry has been as close as you can ask for. Miami is 9-8 in the past 17 meetings, including playoffs, with the average margin of victory just 2.5 points. Indiana is unbeaten at home this season, and not many of them have been close. Last season, the teams played three times during the regular season – twice in Indy – with the home team winning by double-digits in each. In my mind it's more of a statement game to the Pacers because they are the challengers and not the champs. So I expect an intense effort, especially defensively. Take Indiana and the under.
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