Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers Betting Preview

Doc Moseman@DocsSportsCorrespondent IMay 20, 2013

MIAMI, FL - MAY 15:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena on May 15, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

This Wednesday night, the No. 3 Indiana Pacers will kick off this season’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals on the road against the No. 1 Miami Heat with Game 1 of a best-of-seven series.

The oddsmakers have given the Pacers little chance of toppling the defending champions. BetOnline has opened them as +550 underdogs on the series price with Miami listed as a -710 favorite. They also have the longest odds to win a NBA title among the final four teams at +1600.

The most favorable odds for the length of this series are +180 for five games, with the Heat winning 4-1. The odds for a four-game sweep by Miami are +350, while Indiana winning in seven games is listed at +1500.

When you look at this matchup on paper, you can’t help but get the feeling that these two teams are a bit closer than what the current odds suggest.

They met three times in the regular season; Indiana holds a 2-1 edge both straight up and against the spread by virtue of playing two of the games on their home court. That suggests that the Pacers have a realistic shot at taking this series six games if they successfully defend their home court this time around as well.

So far in these playoffs, they are a perfect 6-0 both SU and ATS at home versus a 2-4 record both ways on the road. Miami is 8-1 SU in its nine playoff games and 6-3 ATS, but this includes a 2-3 record ATS at home.

The Heat have opened up as 7.5-point home favorites for Wednesday night, with the total set at 182.5.

The Pacers win this series if:

If everything that can go right does, Indiana has enough talent to pull off the upset. Under the best of circumstances, Indiana will probably need the full seven games to win, which means a Game 7 in Miami.

If by some crazy twist of fate they can steal a win on the road in the first two games, the Pacers would be in position to close things out in six if they win all three games at home. As good as they have been at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, that would still be a mighty big “if”.

The main edge that Indiana has in this series is on the boards with players such as Paul George and Roy Hibbert. These two have combined to pull down an average of 17.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs. When you add in David West (6.8) and Lance Stephenson (8.1), it’s easy to see how the team as a whole is averaging 47.3 boards per game.

This is an advantage the Pacers need to exploit to the fullest considering they are averaging just 92 points per game.

The Heat win this series if:

Miami should roll into the NBA Finals as expected as long as it continues to play like the team that has lost just three times SU in its last 48 games dating back to February 3. Two of those losses were to Chicago, which it just eliminated in five games in the conference semifinals after a stunning 93-86 loss in Game 1 of that series as a 12.5-point favorite at home.

The Heat are well aware of just how tough Indiana can be to beat when it is at the top of its game, so do not expect any letdowns from Miami this Wednesday night.

This team can beat you by playing defense as well, but it has the added luxury of simply running past the Pacers behind an offense that is averaging 98.6 points per game while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range.

The main concern remains the health of Dwyane Wade’s knee as he remains a huge part of Miami’s overall game plan on both ends of the court. If he were to go down, then the gap between the two teams shrinks considerably, but not completely.

Pacers vs. Heat Series Betting Trends

The home team in this series is 7-3 both SU and ATS in the last 10 meetings dating back to the 2011-12 season.

They met last season in the conference semifinals, and Indiana opened up a surprising 2-1 series lead before losing three straight games by a combined 52 points. The total in that series stayed “under” in the first three games and went “over” in the final three. The total has now gone over in five of the last six meetings overall.