The Miami Heat start their Eastern Conference semi-final series with the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, looking for affirmation that they can overcome their own deficiencies and become the dominant force they aspire to be. They’ll expect plenty of resistance from the Pacers, however, whose understated rise this season has been built on a combination of toughness and chemistry at both ends of the court.
Critics would say those are qualities that Miami often lacked in their meltdown against Dallas in last year’s finals. And while the Heat have been on a mission to banish those memories, they showed enough vulnerability in their series with the New York Knicks to suggest Indiana can inflict some collateral damage.
The Heat won the regular season series 3-1, with LeBron James averaging 26.8 points. They’re priced at 1.91 on a -8.0 point handicap in Game 1 at 1.91. But over the series, it’s worth a punt on Indiana to take Miami to six games (at 4.50) rather than suffering a sweep.
It’s winner-take-all in Memphis, where the Grizzlies host the Los Angeles Clippers in a deciding Game 7. Escaping elimination again with a 90-88 win in LA on Friday, Memphis again looked like the side that went on a shock run to the Western Conference Finals last spring. The Clippers, meanwhile, looked like… the Clippers.
That’s why Los Angeles’ other team are an ultra-generous 4.30, but it should be the Grizzlies who roar loudest. Take over the total points line of 176.5 at 1.91.
Turkish delight for CSKA?
CSKA Moscow will start as 1.28 favourites when they take on Olympiakos in the Euroleague final in Istanbul. But after both teams squeezed through gripping semis on Friday night, the fatigue factor might come into play.
Extra depth on the bench could favour the Russians, who proved their mettle by rallying from a huge deficit to edge out Panathinaikos 66-64. The Greek side look a good bet at +6.0 points at the end of the third quarter at 1.90, but take CSKA to claim the prize in under 148.5 total points.
Bet of the day: Go over 176.5 total points at 1.91 in Grizzlies – Clippers.