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The Eastern Conference playoffs have seen significantly more drama than its counterparts in the Western Conference. The Pacers caught a monster break in the opening round by not having to worry about Dwight Howard as Indiana eliminated Orlando in five games. The fortune went Indiana's way again in the semifinals when Chris Bosh went down with an abdominal injury, as the Pacers won two of the first three games against the mighty Heat. However, things turned back Miami's way in Game 4.
The Heat evened up the series at two apiece heading back to South Florida for Tuesday's crucial Game 5, the only contest on the NBA playoff card. LeBron James showcased his MVP ways by putting up an unbelievable stat-line of 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists, while helping the Heat cash as a 1 ½-point road favorite, 101-93 in Game 4. Dwyane Wade overcame a horrendous Game 3 performance (2-13 FG) to compliment James by scoring 30 points and pulling down nine rebounds in Sunday's victory.
Indiana couldn't keep the momentum up following a strong first half showing, building a 54-46 advantage at intermission. The first half 'over' of 88 ½ easily cashed, while Frank Vogel's club took home the money at + ½ in the opening 24 minutes. The Heat rebounded in the second half as 3 ½-point favorites to outscore the Pacers, 55-39, as the team to win the final 24 minutes is a perfect 4-0 in the series.
In spite of Bosh's absence once again in Game 4 (and likely in Game 5), the Heat outrebounded the Pacers for the second time in the series on Sunday by a 47-38 margin. Not one Indiana player finished with double-digit rebounds, as Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with nine boards in Game 4. For the exception of Darren Collison's efficient 6-for-7 showing, Indiana shot 37.5% overall from the field, as four Pacers missed at least seven shots.
Sportsbook.ag has put up several interesting props, including who will meet in the NBA Finals with the current teams remaining in the postseason. The Heat and Spurs are on a collision course to hook up for the title at +120, while Miami and Oklahoma City locking horns for the championship sits at slightly higher odds (+250). Even though the Pacers are two wins away from the conference finals, the odds sit at 6/1 for an Indiana/San Antonio Finals matchup right now. However, a less-than-anticipated Pacers/Thunder meeting in June is set at 11/1 odds.
VegasInsider.com's Chris David analyzes the total situation through the first four contests of this series, "Despite watching Game 4 cash 'over' tickets, rather easily too, the oddsmakers didn't tweak the total on Game 5 that much and I'm a little surprised. Anybody that bets on basketball knows that totals are created on pace and the difference of going 'over' or 'under' is the number of made shots."
The foul shooting had plenty to do with an 'over' on Sunday, as David breaks down the stats, "The Heat took 80 shots on Sunday, while the Pacers attempted 79. And those numbers would be higher if both teams didn't combine to shoot 52 free throws."
Heading into Tuesday's contest, David sees another high-scoring game on the horizon, "Even though the 'under' has cashed in three of the first four games in this series, the value still points to the 'over' at this low price, especially when you look at the Game 1 opener of 189. I understand the Heat's offense is definitely hurting without Bosh but that also limits them defensively too. Indiana hasn't exactly had a breakout game offensively in this series and when it does, you could be celebrating early with a low number."
However, the Heat has compiled a 19-6 mark to the 'under' at home this season off a victory, including an 11-1 record the last 12 games in this situation. The Pacers own a 9-4 ATS ledger on the road off a loss, while cashing eight times in this role as an away underdog. Indiana is 5-2 ATS the last seven games as a road 'dog, while posting a 6-3 ATS away record the previous nine overall.
Miami is listed as 6 ½-point favorites in Tuesday's Game 5, as the total is set at 180 ½ across the board. The game tips off at 8:00 PM EST at American Airlines Arena, while the contest can be seen nationally on TNT.
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