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May 18th 2014 - Posted at 11:00 AM Eastern Time

Take Indiana Pacers at +2.5 spread against Miami Heat risking 2%

The Eastern conference Finals kick off this afternoon and this is the matchup that many predicted as the Pacers and the Heat tangle one more time for a chance to go to the NBA Finals. The Heat were the #1 seed last season and used that to their advantage as they beat the Pacers in Game 7 down in South Beach, en route to another NBA Title. In the offseason, the Pacers set a goal for themselves and that was to secure the #1 seed so that if/when they meet Miami in the playoffs, they would have home court advantage. Despite all the ups and downs, they achieved what they set out to do and now it's time to capitalize on it.

Most will look at this game and see the defending 2-time NBA Champions, who have breezed through the post-season squaring off against a Pacers team that has struggled in its two past series. Many will look at the tough road ro get here as a a bad thing but that isn't necessarily the case. By playing in tight competitive series thus far, the Pacers know what it takes to win closely contested ball games and have had their backs against the wall and yet survived and triumphed. They are battle tested and have faced adversity and come out the other side stronger because of it. Their struggles have forced the players to reunite and put their differences aside. They've bonded together as a team again and when the Pacers play as one, they are the same group that lost only 6 home games during the regular season! 

The Heat on the other hand have yet to be challenged in the playoffs this year. They swept the Charlotte Bobcats in 4 games and went on to dismantle Brooklyn in short order as well. Miami has rarely faltered in these playoffs and that means public perception of them is extremely high at the moment. They have yet to face true adversity and be on the brink of elimination like the Pacers have been and we think that will hurt them in this opening game. They have forgotten what it is like to be in a physical defensive ball game but they will be reminded of that today. In what should be a tight low-scoring game, the points may come into play but the edge lies with the defensive minded home team anyway. Miami has also protected the basketball extremely well so far in the playoffs. The have limited their turnovers and are averaging just about 9 per game compared to 14 in the regular season! That is a big reason why they have won games with ease but that shouldn't be the case today. The Pacers have been good at forcing turnovers and we expect Mario Chalmers and teammates to have a tougher time hanging on to the basketball. 

Indiana is a team that has been put together to contend with the Miami Heat. Through all of their struggles, the one thing that has remained constant is their dislike of the reigning champions. Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a venue that the Heat have had little success in. The Pacers for have owned the Miami Heat in this building the better part of 2 seasons including twice earlier in the season. They always show up when the Heat come to town and today should be no different. Through all of their hard work to get the #1 seed and home court advantage, we don't see them giving it up in the first game of the series. 

Despite their recent struggles, the Pacers are an excellent team and a force to be reckoned with. They are also not a team that is listed as underdogs very often. It has only happened a handful of times this season and even less so at home! It is not a smart move by the line-makers to install them as home underdogs but they have had to because the public is very high on the fact that Miami has gotten to this point with relative ease. The Pacers always heighten their play in Indiana and own the best home record in the league! They have been the statistically best defensive team in the league over the last couple of seasons holding teams to less than 90 points and we have seen them get back to that style of play in their series against Washington. The Pacers are not a flashy offensive team and for a while they were pretending to be something that they were not. Their best weapon is their fundamentals; play smothering defense and rebound the basketball. That is what this team was built on and how they win games. Those are two areas they have an advantage over the Heat and how they've beaten them in the past.

This is a clash of styles and one that the Pacers often get the better of. The Pacers getting points at home in a game that they have been looking forward to all season is too good to pass up on. We expect them to win this game outright but do suggest taking the points for the added insurance. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Pacers are 23-7 when revenging a loss vs an opponent.
  • Pacers are 15-2 when playing on 2 or more days rest!
  • Miami is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Indiana.

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