Heat vs Pacers Series Preview & Game 1 Pick

Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Game 1

Sunday 3:30 EST

May 18, 2014

Game 1 Line: Miami -2.5 (Subject to change. Check up-to-date odds at Bovada)

Series Prices: Miami -400 / Indiana +300

The wait is finally over.

One year after the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they meet again with a conference championship at stake. But unlike last year, the Pacers will have home-court advantage this time around.

Having played the least amount of games of the final four teams remaining, the Heat begin preparation for their fourth consecutive Eastern Conference finals well rested. That bodes well for Dwyane Wade, who still continues to play at an elite level. Entering the playoffs, there were plenty of questions and concerns about Wade’s health, but Wade continues to answer the call every time he takes the court.

Displayed by his performance in a pivotal Game 5 against the Brooklyn Nets, and scoring 28 points in the Heat’s close-out game of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Wade is only getting stronger as the postseason progresses. After averaging 16.6 points per game to begin the playoffs, Wade will need to be the Wade of old, if the Heat plan on playing for their third consecutive championship.

In the 2013 playoffs, the Heat’s struggles against the Pacers stemmed from Wade fighting through injuries that plagued his all of last season. His limited mobility and chronic tendonitis in his knee from a year ago appear to no longer be an issue. Now having had plenty of rest between series, Wade is no longer a shell of his former self, but rather one of the NBA’s best. No matter how healthy Wade may be, Heat fans still continuously hold their breath every time Wade takes the court hoping he doesn’t get injured. Wade can only take them so far; they’re going to need LeBron James the rest of the way.

It’s no secret that if James continues to perform like he has in the first two series, averaging 30 points on just over 17 shot attempts per game, the Heat will remain unstoppable. James continues to dominate on defense, and can score basically whenever he wants. Wade, Chris Bosh, and the rest of the Heat have been good enough, but if James continues to dominate, good enough will certainly be enough to win.

Although the Heat look to be on a clear path towards the NBA finals, don’t be surprised if this series goes the distance. We know the result from last year’s seven-game Eastern Conference finals battle, and during this season, they split their four matchups. Both teams were victorious in their two home games. Three of those games were decided by six points or less.

However, the success of the Pacers won’t be determined by the play of All-star Paul George, who’s averaging 21.7 points per game, or by David West, who was simply stellar in their close out win versus the Washington Wizards. Advancing to the NBA finals will come down to the most puzzling player in the NBA this season: Roy Hibbert. At times in the playoffs, he’s disappeared scoring four points or less in three losses, but in the Pacers three consecutive wins against the Wizards, he averaged nearly 20 points and eight rebounds.

The Pacers don’t need Hibbert to be a scorer, but will need him to to be a factor in the paint. The Pacers are going to need the Hibbert to play like he did in the first half of the season, and be a dominating force on defense. James is nearly unstoppable in the paint, but Hibbert is one of the best in the league at altering shots. It’s going to be a battle for the ages. Indiana better hope Hibbert is victorious.

While I fully expect the Heat to advance to the NBA finals, I expect the underdog to win Game 1, and that would be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference – the Indiana Pacers.

My Game 1 Pick: Pacers +2.5

My Series Pick: Heat in 7

May 17, 2014 by : Posted in Picks and Predictions No Comments
Adam Rosen

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Adam Rosen is a seasoned sports writer with special interests in Pro Football and Basketball. He has been picking sports games against the spread for years, and has posted a 56% win rate over his last 75 predictions.

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