Can The Pacers Stay Alive vs. LeBron?
CAN PACERS STAY ALIVE AGAINST THE BEAST LEBRON?!
For a half of basketball this past Thursday Night, it looked like the Indiana Pacers might have solved the riddle of how to contain the beast LeBron James and the Miami Heat in their Eastern Conference Championship series. The best-of-seven was knotted up at two games apiece, and the Pacers led through 24 minutes of action.
That very high gear that Miami had shown back in Game Three's 114-96 rout of the Pacers in Indiana was nowhere to be found. Maybe that was a one-time showing. Maybe the Indiana defense could at least "contain" LeBron while daring the rest of the Heat to beat them.
Third Quarter: Miami 30, Indiana 13
Miami found that extra gear once again. And, it was a mix of both Lebron's ability to pound his way inside for baskets...and his teammates ability to hit jumpers if Indiana double-teamed. The more intense attack helped put Indiana in foul trouble...and we all know how bad the Pacers bench is!
Now, Miami leads the series three games to two, and only has to win at home to finish off the series. They could take care of business earlier by winning Saturday at Indiana of course, where the betting markets have made them a small favorite.
MIAMI at INDIANA
Vegas Line: Miami by 2, total of 182
Miami Leads 3-2
Vegas has stuck very solidly in that 7-2 range...with the Heat typically laying about 7 to 7.5 at home, but only 2-3 on the road. The total has dropped back to where it was earlier in the series because we finally had a low scoring game! The referees swallowed their whistles Thursday Night, leading to the first Under of the series. Check out the relationship between made free throws and Overs in this series:
Game One: 40 free throws, 184 points in regulation
Game Two: 44 free throws, 190 points
Game Three: 54 free throws, 210 points
Game Four: 50 free throws, 191 points
Game Five: 19 free throws, 169 points
The teams basically played the same style of game that had been all series. Referees knocked almost 20 free throws off the average, which knocked more than 20 points off the series scoring average.
Average Result: Miami by 3.6 in regulation
Average Total: 188.8 in regulation
Miami's barely better than Saturday's spread in the series, even though 60% of the series has been on their home court. That by itself would suggest Indiana as a value side...not surprising because the Pacers are 3-2 ATS so far.
Questions for handicappers:
Will Indiana throw in the towel Saturday, just like they did last year in the same meeting once it was clear they were the lesser of the two teams? There's something about hitting a wall that discourages series underdogs in later games.
Will Miami decide to rest through this game so they can be at peak energy for a Game Seven on Monday. The NBA championships don't get started until Thursday...and would begin in Miami. The Heat would have plenty of time to rest up and prepare for the Spurs even if this series goes the distance. We're not suggesting Miami would just outright tank. But, if they fall behind early...would discretion be the better part of valor?
Will the refs keep their whistles swallowed? Or, will a new set of guys in stripes go back to calling fouls the way we had seen in earlier games. Some of these officials love getting their faces on TV...and love "showing who's boss" when players get physical.
Miami won an Over on this floor when the refs called fouls
Miami won an Under in this series when they didn't
Indiana won an Over on this floor when the Heat played flat
Indiana covered an overtime game that was only 184 in regulation back in G1
All combinations are still possible!
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Back Sunday to preview the prime time baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees set for national coverage on ESPN. That's always a huge game for those AL East contenders. Same old rivalry, but a lot of new faces this year!
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