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Heat at Pacers, Game 3

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Things are getting interesting in the Eastern Conference Finals after Miami sailed to an 8-1 record in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Following a buzzer-beating victory to steal Game 1, the Heat couldn't capitalize in a four-point defeat in Game 2 to send the series back to Indiana tied at 1-1. The Pacers were in this spot last postseason, but the confidence level has definitely changed this time around.

Indiana finished off Miami, 97-93 to even up the series at one game apiece on Friday night to cash as 7 ½-point road underdogs (+300 on money-line). Paul George continues to ascend towards superstar status for Indiana, scoring 22 points, while Roy Hibbert owned the paint with a 29-point, 10-rebound effort. The controversy surrounding the conclusion of Game 1 involved Hibbert being taken out of the game on the final possession, resulting in an easy lay-up by LeBron James. In Game 2, Hibbert clogged the lane on both sides, while knocking down 10-of-15 shots from the field.

The Heat had plenty of problems shooting the ball in Game 2, hitting 46% of their shots, as Miami didn't help itself from the line with eight missed free throws. Past Chris Andersen's 7-of-7 showcase in Game 1, the Miami bench did very little to assist James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. In Game 2, Miami's reserves put up 19 points on a dreadful 6-of-17 shooting from the floor. Past James' 36 points, Wade and Bosh combined to score 31 points, but Miami needs more contributions moving forward to avoid a potential upset at the hands of Indiana.

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The 'over' cashed in each of the first two games, in spite of the extra five minutes played in the series opener. The late desperation three-point heave by George in the final seconds of Game 1 pushed an almost no-doubt 'under' into an 'over' victory, capping off a 105-point second half. In Game 2, the two squads combined for 100 points in the opening half, needing just 83 points in the second half to cash 'over' tickets. A 50-point third quarter solidified the 'over,' while the Heat scored just five points in the final six minutes of regulation.

Miami has now cashed the 'over' in five of the last six playoff games, but Erik Spoelstra's team is 2-1-1 to the 'under' on the road in the postseason. All four of the Heat's wins on the highway against the Bucks and Bulls came by double-digits, while Miami covered each time in the 'chalk' role of at least seven points.

The Pacers have yet to lose at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this postseason, posting a perfect 6-0 SU/ATS ledger. Five of Indiana's six home victories came by at least 11 points, while busting the 106-point mark four times. Even though the Pacers lost twice at home to the Heat in last season's second round, Indiana got revenge with two underdog triumphs at the Fieldhouse over Miami this season.

The Heat hasn't lost many games this season (18), while losing consecutive contests just three times. Since falling at Portland in January, Miami has compiled a 7-0 SU/ATS record off a defeat, including five road victories. In the two visits to Indiana this season, the Heat's offense went cold by scoring only 77 and 89 points.

VegasInsider.com's Chris David breaks down Game 3's opening number, "I'm a little surprised Miami only opened as a one-point favorite, but the number is based on perception and a lot of folks are buying the Pacers right now, especially with the Heat mired in a 0-3 ATS skid. Even though the series is tied 1-1, the Heat should've been sent out at 2 ½ or three-point road favorites. I'm firmly aware that Indiana has been perfect in the playoffs at home, which is solid. However, Miami is 4-0 on the road in the playoffs and it's won and covered all four by double digits, which is a helluva lot more impressive in my opinion."

From the totals perspective, David says to go the opposite way with the series shifting to the Hoosier State, "The 'over' has cashed in the first two installments, but if you handicap totals on pace, then you should lean 'under' for Game 3. Neither team is pushing the tempo, but they've both been aided by a ton of free throws. I expect that number to decline, yet most would expect the Heat's three-point shooting to improve. During the season, Miami shot close to 40 percent from distance and it's only 30 percent (12-of-40) in this series, which includes a 1-of-6 performance from Ray Allen, the best NBA three-point shooter of all-time."

Game 3 tips off at 8:30 PM EST on Sunday night, as the game can be seen nationally on TNT.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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