Many people expect Miami to progress to their third successive NBA Final match this year and while the Heat are favourites to do just that, Indiana look well placed to make Pat Riley’s men work for the spot.
With the series poised at 2-2 the Pacers head to the American Airlines Arena in high spirits after securing a 99-92 victory in Game 4 and will look to 22-year-old shooting guard Lance Stephenson to give them the advantage in Game 5.
The Cincinnati graduate’s energetic displays in the series thus far have given Indiana fans hope and while he has been hit and miss in terms of scoring, his rebound numbers show he has the desire and dedication to lead by example.
Rebounds have been the Pacer’s strongest asset all season, with the team leading the league at 45.9, while three-point conversion (5.4 per game) has also been key in the Pacers’ bid for glory.
Miami, despite a staggering regular season campaign, are now the side with the worst rebound stats in the NBA at 38.6 and this could play a significant part in the matchup.
Heat are 11-3 in the last 14 at home to Indiana and 22-3 in 25 against allcomers to Florida, justifying their tags as 1/4 favourites for the game, but the Pacers need only look to last year’s Conference Finals for inspiration.
Despite holding a 4-1 regular season record over last year’s opponents at this stage – Boston – Miami went into Game 5 tied at 2-2 and lost at home to the Celtics.
Of course LeBron James inspired his side on to ultimate success, but if Stephenson is on song then the Pacers look good value at 3/1 for the tie.
Indiana are worthy holders of their reputation as a tight defensive unit, but this tie looks set to be a high scoring affair, with the line set at 185.
Every game in the series so far has produced more than that total, while the total has gone over in each of Indiana’s last five and Miami’s last five games, making the 10/11 on over 185 a tempting prospect.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication