If the folks at Bovada offer any indication, LeBron James's mini outburst regarding being "just another team" (reporter's words, not Frank's) backs him up entirely as to just what the Indiana Pacers should expect to happen when they take the floor against the Miami Heat in this year's Eastern Conference Finals. The odds are stacked heavily in Miami's favor, with Bovada providing 2/15 odds for the Heat to win over the Pacers with a -750 line. On the flipside, the Pacers sit at 21/4 odds. So you're saying there's a chance after all?
We learned within the past weekend that the heavy favorite doesn't always win, as Orb failed to take even odds home in the second leg of horse racing's triple crown at the Preakness. Of course, the Miami Heat would like to think they're more of a Secretariat, and with heavy odds stacked in their favor, it certainly doesn't hurt the talk, especially when the Pacers play bigger underdogs than Preakness winner Oxbow did. However, Oxbow's 15/1 odds are the same as Bovada's for the Pacers to win the series in seven games. Do you believe in a Memorial Day Miracle?
Even still, expecting the steadier and improved Pacers to beat the steadier and improved Heat is at best a long shot, but Indiana does have ways to tackle the Heat that doesn't involve physically tackling the Heat. For one, they'll have defense on their side. This will be the fifth meeting in the last 20 years between the top NBA team in offensive rating and the top team in defensive rating. Unfortunately for the "defense wins championships" mantra, the defensive team is just 2-2 in those series, with the 1997 Bulls and 2006 Mavericks each taking it to the top defensive opponent en route to the NBA Finals.
The Pacers also hold a decided advantage on the boards. The Pacers were the league's best rebounding team this year, while Miami was the worst. In league history, no team that has finished last in rebounding has won an NBA title, creating a situation where if the Pacers can dominate the boards, they can turn Miami into just another team, one of 28 watching the NBA Finals from their couch. This is all well and good, but it all falls under the "easier said than done" umbrella, and it does nothing to diminish the odds, which expect the Heat to wrap this one up in five.
Despite my better judgment as someone who wants to see the Pacers return to the NBA Finals, the series looks like one that will favor the Heat in six games. I have tremendous confidence the Pacers will be able to win a game in Miami, but I lack the same confidence that they'll go 3-0 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. To accomplish both, the Pacers could really use more than the 13.5 & 9.5 expected from Roy Hibbert, and will have to keep Ray Allen from averaging what seems like an astronomical 10.5 points himself.
So check out the odds and form your own opinions about the series which will tip off Wednesday in South Beach.
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat - Exact Series Result
Indiana Pacers 4-0 75/1
Indiana Pacers 4-1 33/1
Indiana Pacers 4-2 10/1
Indiana Pacers 4-3 15/1
Miami Heat 4-0 7/2
Miami Heat 4-1 9/5
Miami Heat 4-2 7/2
Miami Heat 4-3 15/4
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat - Total Games in Series
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat - Where will the Series be Decided?
Indiana Pacers +110 (11/10)
Miami Heat -140 (5/7)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - Paul George (IND)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Rebounds Per Game - Paul George (IND)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - George Hill (IND)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - David West (IND)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - Roy Hibbert (IND)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Rebounds Per Game - Roy Hibbert (IND)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - LeBron James (MIA)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Rebounds and Assists Per Game - LeBron James (MIA)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - Chris Bosh (MIA)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Rebounds Per Game - Chris Bosh (MIA)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - Dwyane Wade (MIA)
2013 NBA Playoffs - Average Third Round Points Per Game - Ray Allen (MIA)