Ahead 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and with the Great Big Three project souring by the day, Miami desperately needs to stay composed tonight, advance first and foremost, and then await the return of Chris Bosh to restore some of their lustre. Even then, there will be questions whether they have the strength in depth to overcome San Antonio or Oklahoma City over seven games.
Talk of the NBA Finals must remain on hold anyway. And the Pacers will feel confident of forcing a deciding Game 7. Branded as ‘soft’ by team president Larry Bird after their 115-83 loss on Tuesday, Indiana will look to exploit the gaping holes in Miami’s line-up left by the suspension of Udonis Haslem, and also Dexter Pittman, for their flagrant fouls during that game.
The pair’s bans leave the Heat more reliant than ever on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. And also vulnerable. Despite two consecutive defeats, the Pacers look great value at 2.33 to win this one, with Danny Granger expected to shake off a sprained ankle. But expect Miami to run and gun and push the tie over the total points forecast of 182.0 (available at 1.91).
Given the Heat’s inconsistent play, it’s also worth a punt on anyone but Miami to win the Eastern Conference at 3.40.
Take a look at the WNBA for some betting value as the NBA’s sister league gets off and running for the summer. The Minnesota Lynx steamrollered their way to the title in 2011 and they’ve managed to retain almost all that squad – taking the favourites tag at 4.75.
The Atlanta Dream, beaten finalists over the past two seasons, are a generous 8.50 to make it third time lucky. But the Seattle Storm, priced at 8.00, could suffer from the Olympic diversions of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
Bet of the Day: Indiana to beat Miami at 2.33