March 26th 2014 - Posted at 5:00 PM Eastern Time
There are two bets risking 4% tonight.
#1: Take Indiana Pacers at -1.5 spread against Miami Heat risking 2%
This is no doubt the marquee game on the card tonight as the Miami Heat travel to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to take on the Indiana Pacers! This is the matchup that many had predicted to be the Eastern Conference Finals and this should be another preview to it. The Heat and the Pacers have met twice this season, with the home side grabbing a victory each time. In fact the home team has won the last 6 meetings between these two teams and we expect more of the same tonight.
Despite Miami Heat winning back to back championships, for much of this season it has been the Indiana Pacers who have been labeled as the team to beat. The Pacers have led the Eastern Conference since all the way back on November 4th and it has been the Miami Heat who have been trying to play catch-up. This Pacers team was specifically built to contend with the Miami Heat. Everyone from top to bottom and from behind the scenes to on the court including coach Frank Vogel had the same goal in mind this season: win a championship. In order to do that they are going to have to go through the Miami Heat and tonight is a chance for them to make yet another statement and to take a massive step towards clinching the #1 seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs!
Both teams have struggled somewhat recently winning only 5 of their last 12 games! Despite their difficulties, we expect all of that to be placed behind them when we see two truly elite teams clash. Motivation won't be an issue for either side so it'll come down to who execuses better and we believe the Pacers have a distinct advantage playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse tonight. They have amassed an incredible 32-4 record at home this season proving nearly unbeatable!
Not many teams have been able to come into this arena and beat the Pacers. The Heat have already tried themselves and failed. The only reason this line is short is because of the Pacers' recent shaky against-the-spread record which is largely due to laying big points against inferior oppositions. You will rarely see this low of a spread in a Pacers home game, just as you will very rarely see the 2-time defending champions listed as underdogs. The Heat are underdogs for a reason tonight and we believe it is warranted.
The Pacers are simply a bad matchup for the Heat. They are a young, hungry and physical team while the Miami Heat are filled with veterans and are more of a "finesse" oriented team. The Pacers lower their heads and play smash mouth basketball while the Heat players use their experience with the subtle nuances in the game. The fact that the Pacers are one of the best rebounding teams in the league is something that the Heat have had problems with in the past and should again find challenging tonight. The ability of the Pacers to limit Miami to just a single shot per possession has been key in their victories against them while offensive rebounds have given their own offense some second-chance opportunities.
We successfully backed the Pacers at home against the Heat as 3.5 point favorites back on Dec 10th. Now with their recent skid ATS, we are getting a much better value. There is a lot on the line tonight and the fact that the Pacers simply don't lose often at home gives them the immediate advantage. Miami has struggled recently and the fact that they are once again on the road will not do them any favors. If the Pacers win this game, which we expect they will, with the spread being so low a win should naturally get the cover. The Pacers rebounding and defense should prove to be the difference tonight.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Miami is 0-2 on the road when total is set between 185 to 189.5 points this season.
- Pacers on the other hand are a perfect 9-0 at home when total is between 185 to 189.5 this season!
- Miami is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 road games.
- Pacers are 47-13 as a favorite this season!
#2: Take Utah Jazz at +8 spread against Memphis Grizzlies risking 2%
This is the third and final meeting between these two teams tonight. Memphis has won the first two meetings by ten points so it appears the odds-makers expect more of the same but we are not sure that will be the case tonight. The Grizzlies may have won by double digits in the first two meetings but it's worth mentioning that both of those games were played in Memphis. With this being the final meeting and Utah being at home in front of their fans, we find it hard to believe that they will simply give up and allow Memphis to defeat them by double digits again. Also the fact that these teams played just 7 nights ago makes it likely that Memphis may overlook the lowly Jazz and won't be taking them too seriously. The Jazz haven't had much to celebrate this season but these are professional athletes and coaches who have a lot of pride. The players should put forth a solid effort just to appease their own egos and avoid being blown out by Memphis twice in a week. They haven't been swept by the Grizzlies since 2004-2005 season!
The Grizzlies are not a group that is used to nor built to blowing out opposing teams. They are a defensive minded team first and foremost and rarely light up the scoreboard. In fact they don't usually have to score a lot of points in order to beat teams. Their style of play allows them to win low-scoring games played in the 80's and low 90's because they rely on sound defense. They prefer to dictate the pace of the game, slow it down and make each possession count, which is why the total in this game is so interesting.
The total is listed at a lowly 184 tonight. Totals usually dictate the pace of the game and Vegas is clearly expecting a low-scoring defensive game. If they are predicting a 94-90 type game, that will play directly into the strength of the Grizzlies. The problem with low totals however is that it makes it incredibly difficult for favorites to cover large spreads. There will probably not be a lot of scoring in this game which makes building and sustaining a large lead difficult. Another issue with playing the style of game that the Grizzlies do is that it typically leaves teams within striking distance. With Memphis not so reliant on offense, they can go on scoring droughts which can allow teams to make up ground. The Jazz may not be a flashy team but they do average 97 points at home and even 90 points should be enough to get the cover tonight. Guys like Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke can be very dangerous from beyond the arc and can quickly make a large lead disappear.
It's difficult enough to sweep a team in a season series but it's even harder to beat the same team 3 times by double digits!
Another factor that comes into play is Memphis' motivation. Yes they are fighting for a playoff spot but the Utah Jazz are a very unassuming team. They are not a "good" team or even looked at as a threat by many teams. Memphis has a tough stretch of road games coming up starting with Golden State on Friday, followed by Portland, Denver and Minnesota all on the highway. Those games should be more concerning to the Grizzlies than this one against the Jazz. They may find themselves looking ahead to those matchups much more so than focusing on the one in front of them. That may be just the distraction the Jazz need to keep this within the number.
Eight points is a lot to give up on the road and we believe the line-makers have pushed too far on this one. The Jazz have stepped up at home and surprised some this season and this could be another one. We don't expect them to get the outright win but we do expect a solid effort and for them to keep this closer than most think. This is too many points in what should be a low-scoring defensive game. Even if they do fall behind by double-digits, such a huge spread always leaves the door open for a backdoor cover. Take the points as the Jazz stay within this generous number.
Other notable facts to consider:
- The Jazz are 15-20 at home and play much better in Utah than on the road.
- Utah Jazz is 14-6 ATS after a double digit home loss of more than 10 points!
- Memphis is 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Utah.
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