Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1:
Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat – Wednesday, May 22
Why Indiana Will Win
No NCAA football betting expert would deny the contention that the Pacers have a very good chance in this contest. When you go over your next sportsbook review, you will see that the Miami Heat have lost one game in the playoffs to this point in time. The Heat’s one loss came in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Chicago Bulls. What was notable or unique about that game? Miami played it after having a full week off. The Heat will play Game 1 of this series against Indiana after having six full days off. The Heat are likely going to be rusty and sluggish, at least in the first half. The Pacers, battle-hardened and in a better playing rhythm than the Heat, have a very good chance of getting a jump on the Heat in the first half, forging a halftime lead of eight or nine points and acquiring an advantage heading into the final few minutes of regulation time. Athletes thrive on rhythm, and Miami’s athletes aren’t going to have much of any rhythm to use or establish in Game 1.
What also has to be said about this game is that Indiana is facing a Miami team whose offense sputtered against Chicago in the second round. The Heat won that series in five games only because the Bulls were so thinned out by injuries. Chicago had a short bench to begin with, but the Bulls who were able to play in the series were either forced to play extended minutes or hampered by physical limitations. Even then, Miami scored just 86 points in Game 1, 88 in Game 4, and 94 in Game 5. The Heat flourished in Games 2 and 3, but they were pushed hard by many of the Bulls’ backups, pressed into service by injuries to frontline players. The Heat will struggle against the Pacers if their offense plays at the same level it did against Chicago. Indiana’s defense has an excellent chance of smothering Miami’s offense and turning this series into a long, hard slog. In Game 1, Indiana should be able to limit the Heat under 95 points. If it does, it will have a very realistic chance of winning.
Why Miami Will Win
When people pursue a sports betting play, they have to look at the whole picture in a given matchup and not get sucked into certain trends that might not mean anything when a game begins. Even football betting gurus who possess minimal knowledge of professional basketball could tell you that while the Heat lost Game 1 to Chicago because of layoff-induced rust, Miami will be aware of this reality and will accordingly make a much more concerted effort to attack Indiana from the start. LeBron James, who struggled for extended periods of time against Chicago, will be especially intent on sending a message to the Pacers. LeBron’s level of motivation is high enough to begin with; the superstar is intent on repeating as NBA champion. However, a weekend clash in the press with Indiana head coach Frank Vogel should fuel LeBron even more.
Miami also knows that even if its own offense isn’t sharp, its defense could shut down the Pacers. Indiana did not shoot well from three-point range against the New York Knicks, and if the Pacers’ wings can’t knock down open threes against the Heat, they’re going to find it hard to get to the rim against the length of LeBron and teammate Dwyane Wade. Miami might score fewer than 95 points in this game, but Indiana might score fewer than 85.
Who Will Win?
This figures to be a close game, but the Heat are likely to set the right tone and apply the clamps to the Pacers at the defensive end of the floor. In what feels like a 91-87 game, the Heat will pound out a narrow win.
NBA Betting Pick: Miami