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For the first time in these playoffs, Indiana (59-39 straight up, 53-45 against the spread) will face elimination when it hosts Miami on Saturday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Most betting shops have installed Miami (77-19 SU, 54-42 ATS) as a 2.5-point road favorite with a total of 182. Gamblers can take the Pacers to win outright for a +120 return (risk $100 to win $120).
For first-half wagers, the Heat is favored by one with a total of 90.5.
For the first 24 minutes of Thursday’s crucial Game 5, Indiana was in control. The Pacers were continuing to beat Miami on the boards and get scoring production from their ‘bigs,’ who have had their way in the lane for most of the series.
In a guest appearance on sports radio in Louisville earlier Thursday, I explained that Miami’s only hope was for LeBron James to absolutely dominate. I further noted that the Pacers were the better team, but the Heat had the best player.
With Miami trailing by six in the opening minute of the third quarter, James took over and showed why he’s the best player in the world today. Following a pair of free throws from Dwyane Wade, James scored on a layup. After a bucket by Udonis Haslem, James made a sweet dish to Haslem in transition for an easy dunk.
And just like that, the Heat were in the lead. Haslem would stay hot for the rest of the third quarter, while James added a dunk and a pair of jumpers. Miami was up 70-57 going into the final stanza.
When Indiana momentarily sliced the deficit to eight at 72-64 with 9:46 remaining, Miami responded with a 9-2 run that included a trey from Ray Allen. The Heat wouldn’t let the Pacers get closer than 11 the rest of the way in a 90-79 win as a 7.5-point home favorite.
The 169 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 185-point total. The ‘over’ had previously hit in every game of the series and nine of the 10 previous head-to-head meetings between these clubs.
James finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and one blocked shot. He was efficient as usual, making 13-of-26 shots from the field. Haslem erupted for 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. Mario Chalmers added 12 points and six assists, while Wade tallied 10 points, six boards and four dimes.
Paul George had another stellar performance for the Pacers, producing 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists while draining 11-of-19 attempts from the field. Roy Hibbert had 22 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while David West finished with 17 points and eight boards.
These teams have met at Indiana four times this year. The Pacers are 3-1 both SU and ATS in those four encounters, with last Sunday’s 114-96 loss in Game 3 serving as the lone defeat.
Chris Bosh’s disappearing act in the series continued in Thursday’s Game 5. Although Bosh did collect a series-high five rebounds, he scored only seven points. He is averaging just 3.6 rebounds per game in the East finals.
The ‘over’ is 49-44-3 overall for the Heat, 25-21-1 in its road assignments. Meanwhile, the Pacers have watched their totals produce an overall wash (48-48-2). However, they have seen the ‘over’ go 5-1 in their last six games. The ‘over’ is 26-22-1 in Indiana’s home games this season.
Bettors should keep an eye on the news over the next 24 hours because there is a possibility that Miami Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen could be facing a suspension. He went after Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5, shoving him from the blind side when he mistakenly thought ‘Psycho T’ had given him a bump moments earlier.
The updated series price at Sportsbook.ag is Miami -950, Indiana +675 (risk $100 to win $675). The website's updated future odds have the Heat as the -240 'chalk,' while the Spurs and Pacers have +180 and 20/1 odds, respectively.
Sportsbook also has proposition bets galore for Saturday's Game 6 in Indianapolis. For instance, gamblers can wager on the player to score the first points of the game. James is the +350 'chalk,' with the next-shortest odds belonging to Hibbert (6/1), George (6/1), West (7/1) and Wade (7/1).
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Eastern on TNT.