NBA Betting: Expect a close battle as Pacers look to stay alive

Where would the Miami Heat be without LeBron James? Answer: on a beach. Instead the reigning NBA champions can book a return to the NBA Finals on Saturday night with one more victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But maybe it’s time to call time on the era of the Big Three.

In every game so far in this series, the league MVP has been the highest scorer, averaging 28.4 points and 7.2 rebounds. On Thursday, he outscored Indiana’s entire line-up in the critical third quarter in a game where he shot 50% and his team-mates a distinctly mediocre 37.8%. It speaks volumes for his brilliance that for all the talk of the Heat’s trio of stars, Miami have been outgunned when James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have been on the court together.

Despite that, the Pacers – even with home advantage – are 2.23 to force a deciding Game 7 tonight. Their rivals, who will be without Chris Anderson, are 1.67 to clinch a 4-2 series win. And for those feeling brave, Indiana are 8.00 to win two in a row and progress to a showdown for the title with the San Antonio Spurs.

Could the Pacers prolong this duel? Sure. Can they go back-to-back? Unlikely, especially given that they wilted visibly last time out with George Hill a seemingly spent force.

But the Heat’s apparent fallibility begs the question of whether they have enough to get past the Spurs. At the outset of the play-offs, I picked them out as a dark horse and San Antonio are very capable of winning the title. At 3.30 to come out on top now, it might be time to back the Silver and Black.

Best bet: Go under 175 total points in Indiana-Miami at 2.85