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Game 4, Heat-Pacers
Miami attacking Roy Hibbert in Post Means Trouble
Here’s the main problem with the idea that Roy Hibbert is this destructive defensive force: he’s not invincible. The Miami Heat went after Hibbert and West in the post and scored a ton of points in the paint. All five of their starters – including Udonis Haslem – scored in double digits during Game 3 using a relentless attack that featured attempts to overwork Hibbert instead of shying away from him. It’s pretty much the same strategy the Spurs used against the defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol, in sweeping the Grizzlies.
LeBron asked for help, and that’s how he got it. The closer you are to the basket, the better the chances your shot has of going in. It’s simple math. Hibbert is a much better defender when it comes to stopping, or altering, a driving layup attempt. When someone backs him down in the post, he can be victimized just like any other top level post defender.
I’m not going to blame Hibbert for the loss because that would be dumb. He still scored 20 points and hauled down an impressive 17 rebounds, and continues to offer a consistency that is cementing him as one of the most valuable players at his position.
A lot of my analysis about the Heat-Pacers has, instead, has revolved around Paul George because this is a key series for his evolution as a player. Many people have anointed him a superstar, but I have been a bit hesitant for the sole reason that I’m not sure what he’s accomplished as a player. His habit of disappearing in big games should make people nauseous, especially those of you that love NBA playoff betting.
I’m not saying he isn’t good, because at times he’s the most talented guy on the floor. But if you watched Game 3 you saw a George that seemingly floated around. He lacks that aggressive nature that makes Melo, Pierce, Kobe, LeBron and other legitimate stars constant threats. Even if Melo goes 6-for-48 he’s still gunning after his shot and relentlessly pursuing points. George doesn’t have that. When he’s on, he’s on. Unfortunately, when he can’t find his shot, he’s not as effective as his team needs him to be.
Without Danny Granger either starting or coming off the bench, George has to shoulder the scoring load. Tallying 17 points is a reasonably good night for any type of player, and fortunately George hasn’t gone back-to-back games of scoring less than that many during the playoffs. He had averaged 22.6 points per game before he managed just 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting Sunday night.
I think you can count on Hibbert being a force in the post, but you have to be worried about his ability to completely eviscerate Bosh, Andersen, Battier and other guys who back him down. Likewise, you can’t be totally encouraged by George’s performance in Game 3. So why back the Pacers in this game?
Game 4 – INDIANA PACERS +3 over Miami Heat
Tuesday, May 28 --- Bankers Life Fieldhouse (TNT, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Series Record: Miami leads 2-1
NBA playoff betting trends have a lot to do with it. The Pacers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall and a comforting 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games. They’re also a team that responds well to pressure, which happened in the first two games on the road against Miami and during the series against New York. They bounce back in the “game after” very well. The Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a failed cover.
Miami’s betting trends are just as solid, and one stands out. The Heat travel extremely well, going 17-5 ATS in their last 22 road games. I think that part of the reason they started slow in this series is because they hadn’t been properly tested throughout the playoffs. Milwaukee and Chicago weren’t real challenges and the Heat also had a long layoff between those series. They’re awake now.
Frank Vogel may be the NBA’s worst dressed coach, but he’s also a defensive mastermind. He’ll review Sunday’s tape and tell Stevenson to help on the baseline more and have his guards increase their zone protection. Improving help defense has to be a priority in the post. It’s really that simple.
Miami is a great team, but they’re not unbeatable. They had a combined 31 points from Haslem and Chalmers, and if you effectively take those guys out of the game you have a much better chance of winning. Bosh, Wade and LeBron will get theirs and you can only hope to mitigate their production. Indiana has done a great job against Bosh and Wade for the most part. You can’t stop LeBron.
After trying to win a sprint against the uber athletic Heat, the Pacers got away from what makes them a great contender in the first half of Game 3. Trying to surprise the Heat with a fast break offence only played to Miami’s strengths. Look for Indiana to slow the pace down to a grind, allowing their defense to get back to doing what it does well in slowing down the supporting cast of Miami. The Pacers have been blown off the floor in the playoffs before, and each time they’ve bounced back with wins. This series is by no means over.
Bet the Pacers to recover from their Game 3 bruising and even this series in the UNDER.

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