The Indiana Pacers took two of these sides’ three meetings this term, albeit that both of those came in Indiana, and represent a genuine challenge to the Miami Heat’s dominance of the Eastern Conference.
The Heat lost the opening game of their semi-final series with the Chicago Bulls – after winning 4-0 in the previous round – and having a relatively lengthy lay off this time around may again work to their detriment. They haven’t played since the 16th May, while their opponents here last played on the 19th.
Further evidence of an upset in Game One can be found in last year’s semi-finals, when these two franchises faced-off against one another. Eric Spoelstra’s men eventually prevailed 4-2, but not before they’d gone 2-1 behind.
Frank Vogel’s side are 3/1 to win outright at American Airlines Arena on Wednesday night, while Miami are1/4 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Indiana lead the NBA in opponent field goal percentage in the regular season, restricting opponents to just 42.5 per cent shooting, and ended second in the points allowed column, conceding just 90.7 points per game.
The Pacers also lead the league in rebounds at 45.9 per game, while Miami ended at the bottom of that list at just 38.6. This series will undoubtedly prove Miami’s toughest assignment to date.
In their semi-final series against the New York Knicks, Indiana were able to keep the regular season scoring champ Carmelo Anthony (28.7 ppg) largely quiet, and will hope to do the same here against the MVP, LeBron James.
Taming James is something few teams can do at all, let alone consistently, but the Pacers will take strength from their regular season exploits.
Should one fail to be convinced of the Pacers’ claims on the outright here, an Indiana win on the spread is sure to tempt. The visitors are 10/11 on a line of +7.5, and are given the generous price of 10/23 to win on a +12.5 handicap.
Miami were held below the stated line of 95.0 points in two of their three games with Indiana this term, as well as in two of the first three of last year’s series. At 5/6, and given the Pacers’ defensive proficiency, that outcome here should find much support.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing