Not so very long ago, the Miami Heat were chasing the fabled NBA record of 33 consecutive wins. On Monday night, the reigning champions will settle for just one.
Against the odds, the Indiana Pacers have taken the Eastern Conference Finals to a decisive Game 7 but to advance into the NBA Finals and a title showdown with the San Antonio Spurs, they’ll need to become the first team to claim two games in succession in this series.
Miami were terrible in Game 6 on Saturday, held to a season-low 77 points and just 36.1% shooting. But more troubling is the continued lack of help from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who combined for just 15 points in that 91-77 loss. Their scoring tandem is less than LeBron James on his own.
More of the same and despite the brilliance of the MVP might nor be enough. Indiana could come good at 4.05 for the victory, or even at +7 on the handicap at 1.91. In the Heat’s favour, however, is the return of Chris Anderson and an incomparable 43-6 home record this season.
That’s one reason why the hosts are 1.25 to triumph. History is also on their side. Teams with homecourt advantage have a 79.5% winning mark in NBA Game 7s and are 16-2 all-time in the deciders of Conference and NBA Finals. Plus, on the three occasions James has stepped into such elimination matches, he has averaged 34 points.
He might need to once again to kill off the pesky Pacers. Expect a classic, and on one team breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Best bet: Go under the total points line of 180.5 in Miami-Indiana at 1.91