Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers: Round 1, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers NBA Playoffs Round 1
Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers, Eastern Conference

With their season on the line, the Indiana Pacers stuck with their starting lineup for most of the way in Game 4, but it didn’t really matter. A trio of 20-point scorers was not enough to extend their season against the Miami Heat, who once again played a team game to claim the sweep. An off night for Jimmy Butler was erased by 16 points from Tyler Herro and 11 from Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

Miami Heat win 4-0

The Miami Heat played team basketball better than the Indiana Pacers, which is why Miami is moving on after sweeping Indiana. Although Goran Dragic was great in the series, Jimmy Butler was pretty good and Bam Adebayo had his moments of brilliance as well, it was the role players that stole the show. Whether it was Duncan Robinson’s shooting display in Game 2 or how much Tyler Herro stepped up in Games 3 and 4, the reserves played a huge role in pushing Miami past Indiana, which relied too much on its starters for production. Now the Heat wait to see if Orlando can win three straight against Milwaukee or if Miami will get its shot at the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Game 1

August 18th, 4 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

By this point, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat are very familiar with each other’s personnel after playing twice within the last week of the regular NBA season. The Pacers are technically the fourth seed in the playoffs after winning the season finale against the fifth-seeded Heat, but seeding doesn’t really matter in the bubble. These two teams split those two games at the end of the regular season, but both also didn’t play either game at 100 percent.

Miami played without Jimmy Butler in four of its eight games in the bubble and lost three of them. They were 2-2 with him in the lineup, including the loss against Oklahoma City when he played only 15 minutes. The Heat aren’t winning with their offense as they are shooting just 45 percent from the field in the bubble, but the defense has been good enough to keep them in games in the bubble.

T.J. Warren had a monster first three games for the Pacers with 53 in the bubble opener followed by consecutive 30-plus-point performances. He was far less explosive against Phoenix and Miami, with two sub-20-point performances sandwiched around dropping 39 points on the Lakers. Indiana is down two of its top-five scorers this season, however, with Jeremy Lamb and Domantas Sabonis out for the season.

Surprisingly, Miami is a large favorite to advance out of this series given how evenly matched these two teams seem to be on paper. The Heat do have the best player with Butler, but they lack a true scorer like the Pacers have in Warren. Ultimately, Miami should prevail as the better defensive team, but it will take six or seven games to do so. Miami is at -315 odds to win the series outright, but add a bit of money by picking the Heat in six games (+310) or seven games (+480).

The New Jersey online sports betting sites have installed Miami as the favorite for Game 1, which makes sense given the Heat’s advantage in the post. However, it’s hard to not consider the T.J. Warren factor after he was able to rest the past two games to manage the plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The spread varies between 3.5 and 4.5 points in this game, which is right around where it should probably be the rest of this series. In the end, I’d take Miami at -159 odds on the moneyline to take Game 1.

BET ON MIAMI HEAT TO WIN

 

Game 2 (Miami Heat lead 1-0)

August 20th, 1 p.m., The Field House

The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers certainly provided excellent entertainment for basketball fans on the second day of the NBA playoffs. A strong fourth-quarter push was enough to propel Miami to a Game 1 victory as you could tell just how evenly matched these two teams are this year. Miami proved to be a little more efficient on offense, both by making about 50 percent of its shots and limiting itself to just nine turnovers in the game. Indiana just couldn’t catch up despite another good game from T.J. Warren, who had 22 points.

Perhaps an underrated moment in the game was the fact Jimmy Butler pulled up for 3-pointer twice in the fourth quarter to help the Heat pull away. Butler hadn’t made a 3-pointer since the restart began, but he made two big ones as part of his team-high 28 points that helped set the tone for Miami. Butler’s confidence with shooting perimeter shots changes the game for the Heat, and will force Indiana to adjust how it defends Butler, especially if he continues to shoot those shots and make them.

Indiana suffered a major blow early in the game when Victor Oladipo left with an eye injury. Malcolm Brogden scored 22 points for the Pacers, but he was far less efficient than his teammates in scoring. He was just 6-of-18 from the floor, including 1-of-6 from long range, though he did help out with 10 assists as well. The Pacers were not terribly inefficient as a team on offense, but if one player is inefficient with that many shots, it’s that minute difference that can turn a close game.

Oladipo is uncertain for Game 2, which would be a major boost for the Pacers, but there’s something about this Miami team that is intriguing. The Heat have really shaken off their poor finish to the regular season and looked far better than a week ago. Butler and Goran Dragic have continued a strong partnership, and Bam Adebayo’s play will dictate the direction of this series. It’s a trio I believe can get the job done again Thursday for Miami at -205 odds on the moneyline from the New Jersey online sports betting sites.

BET ON MIAMI HEAT TO WIN

Game 3 (Miami Heat 2-0)

August 22nd, 3:30 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

The Miami Heat worked to get Duncan Robinson open on the first play of the game, and the sharpshooter responded by making a 3-pointer. That turned into the story of Miami’s Game 2 win over the Indiana Pacers as Robinson led the way with 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting from behind the arc. The Heat now have a commanding 2-0 lead in the series despite 22 points from Victor Oladipo, who returned from his eye injury to make an impact for the Pacers.

What continues to stand out about Miami is how selfless the Heat seem to be as a team. There is no one dominant scorer and anyone is capable of having a big game on any given night. Although it tends to be stars like Jimmy Butler or Goran Dragic who take over, it equally might be a player like Robinson, who simply takes advantage of the moment in an outstanding fashion. The Heat don’t have a marquee scorer who you definitely trust with the ball in the final seconds, but they have quality depth capable of taking over a game.

Indiana had no answer for Robinson, that is true, but it also didn’t look aggressive enough on offense. The Pacers shot just 20 free throws, and 17 of those came from Malcolm Brogden and Oladipo. They need to do a better job at forcing Miami into a little bit of foul trouble by attacking the rim a bit more and not settle for perimeter shots if they aren’t falling. Indiana might have been the third-best 3-point shooting team in the league, but it outscored Miami 40-34 in the paint and shot just 35 percent from 3-point range in Game 2.

Miami is once again the favorite for Game 3, according to the New Jersey online sports betting sites, and it’s sensible to believe the Heat will take a 3-0 series lead. It’s hard to predict what will happen in Game 3 when Miami could easily unleash a different player who could make a tremendous impact on the game. However, I’m picking Indiana as the 5.5-point underdog because it seems like the Pacers are close to putting together a strong game. The Pacers will shoot better than they did Thursday, specifically T.J. Warren – who was 0-for-5 from distance in Game 2 – will explode to lift Indiana at +175 odds to a needed victory in Game 3.

BET ON INDIANA PACERS TO WIN

Game 4 (Miami Heat lead 3-0)

August 24th, 6:30 p.m., The Field House

The margin between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers is still very small, but the Heat keep doing more to stay on the right side of that margin in this series. Miami had six players in double figures in Saturday’s win, including four with 20 or more points, combating a strong offensive performance from Indiana’s starters. The Pacers had three players with 20 or more points, but the lack of depth behind the starting five proved to be an issue and left Indiana on the verge of elimination.

Once again, Miami had an unheralded player step up to provide a boost in this series. It was Duncan Robinson’s hot shooting in the second game, but Saturday it was Tyler Herro’s 20 points in 28 minutes off the bench that provided a big spark. He was the fourth of the four players with 20 or more points, joining Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic in leading the offense.  The Heat can surprise a lot of teams if they keep getting these large contributions from role players in the postseason, and keep playing with the type of confidence they are exuding at the moment.

Malcolm Brogden’s 34 points led the three Pacers with at least 20 in the loss, but it was the bench that was an issue. The Pacers received just 14 points from its bench and their three main reserves had the three worst plus-minus ratings on the team in Game 3. So not only were the reserves short on offense, they didn’t do a good enough job keeping Miami off the board for the few minutes they replaced the starters. That needs to change for the Pacers to avoid the sweep.

It is really hard to size up Game 4 because although Miami has been the better team in this series, it’s hard to believe it would just sweep Indiana in a very even matchup. The Pacers probably played their best game of the series in Game 3, but the lack of bench production is a troubling sign against a team like Miami. The Heat are the favorites at the New Jersey online sports betting sites, but I’m going to bet on pride and take the Pacers at +255 odds to avoid the sweep. The rationale is simply that Indiana has played well enough in the postseason to win one game of this series, so it might as well be Game 4 on Monday.

BET ON INDIANA PACERS TO WIN

 

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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