2012 NBA Playoffs Picks – Eastern Conference Semifinals Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat Series Price, Odds and Predictions: The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat enter their semifinal series with very different expectations. With its trio of superstars and coming off a loss in the NBA Finals last year, Miami must win a championship or have its season be labeled a failure. Indiana on the other hand has been overachieving throughout the year, going from playoff contender to Eastern Conference power. While reaching the second round is a start, nothing would legitimize the Pacers’ newfound status more than an upset of the favored Heat.
2012 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs Semifinals Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat Series Predictions and Previews:
Neither team was really tested in the first round. The Pacers got a Magic squad without superstar Dwight Howard and promptly took care of Orlando in five games. Meanwhile, Miami dismissed a New York Knicks that has had a rough time winning any playoff games in the last decade, let alone a series. Like Indiana, the Heat needed just five games to advance to the semifinals. Needless to say, both sides will be well rested entering their series.
Depending on how you look at the regular season results, both teams have reason to be optimistic. Miami took three out of the four meetings, including a 35-point demolition of Indiana early in the year, but the Pacers won the final meeting in late March. Indiana also trimmed its margin of defeat in each of the first three games. Yes, the Heat won the regular season series 3-1. However, the Pacers appeared to be getting more comfortable facing with each passing game.
On paper, both teams put up similar numbers throughout the regular season. Miami had a slight edge on the offense, averaging 98.5 points per game compared to 97.7 for the Pacers. The Heat also had the advantage on defense, allowing just 92.5 points per game. Meanwhile, Indiana allowed opponents to score 94.4 points per game. Indiana does have a sizeable advantage in rebounding on Miami, but the Heat has an equally large advantage in field goal percentage. In general, Miami will look to push the tempo and play in the open court, and the Pacers will try to make it a half-court game.
Indiana’s chances of slowing the pace will be easier said than done. While the team does have athletic players like Paul George and Danny Granger, the Pacers can’t match up with the overall team speed of Miami. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and even Mario Chalmers are explosive in the open court and will attack the rim relentlessly. James and Wade in particular are tough matchups for the Pacers because of their ability to score in so many ways and to create open shots for teammates.
If the Pacers are going to reverse the regular season results and upset the Heat, their frontcourt duo of David West and Roy Hibbert will have to take advantage of a small Miami frontcourt. West’s jump shooting ability could stretch the normally stingy Heat defense, and although he didn’t dominate in the regular season, Hibbert should be able to score consistently against the small Miami lineup. Hibbert will also need to make life difficult for Wade and James when they attack the rim. Hibbert is averaging almost four blocks per game in the postseason, and if he can turn Miami into a jump shooting team, Indiana’s chances of winning are greatly improved.
The X-factor in the game could be Granger. He is the one player for Indiana that has the all-around offensive game capable of carrying the Pacers. In order to keep up with the high-powered Miami offense, Indiana will need to get strong performances from its most dynamic offensive player. Unfortunately, Granger was stifled by the defense of James and the Heat, shooting less than 35 percent in the four games against Miami.
In the end, Miami’s overall advantage in athleticism, speed and scoring ability is going to be tough for Indiana to match. Granted, the Pacers have a big edge in size in the paint, but Hibbert isn’t the type of center that can take over a game, at least not at this point in his career. The Heat are on a mission to avenge last year’s defeat in the finals, and more importantly, they have too many weapons for the Pacers to compete with them in a seven-game series.
Prediction: Miami Heat Win in 5 Games
Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat Series Price
Indiana Pacers +600
Miami Heat -800
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