We’ve reached the quarter mark in the NBA season, and teams are starting to settle into their rightful places in the pecking order. Some of the unlikely hot starts have cooled, some of the early struggles (Miami) have asserted themselves, and nearly all seems to be well in the NBA World.
That makes tonight’s first round in the battle for Eastern Conference and League supremacy especially interesting tonight. TO this point in the season, the Indiana Pacers have been the best team in the NBA. They have been inarguably better than Miami. And most fans and media members know it and have been acknowledging it.
And it ALL goes away in a poof if Miami goes into Indy and knocks ‘em down once again.
So will they?
Let’s dig into tonight’s HUGE NBA matchup and look for a winning edge.
Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers -3 (Total: 191)
The Heat certainly aren’t underdogs often, and the line just screams of temptation. The two-time defending champs, Lebron, AND points?!? But let’s take a deep breath and look at this matchup and the relatively long string of history between these two teams.
The home team has won the last four matchups and eight of the last ten. The lone exceptions are the breakout effort from the Pacers in Game Two last year in Miami, and the subsequent “we’re the champs” stomping in Indy to respond in Game Three. Other than that, it’s been the home team handling their business. For the most part, they’ve handled it with assertiveness, winning by an average margin of 12.5 points.
Indiana has the fatigue factor to consider. They are returning from a brutal west coast trip where they faced San Antonio, the Clippers and Oklahoma City and played a total of five games in eight days (3-2 record). If this game were in Miami, I’d set the line at Heat -6.5. But it’s in Indy. And I think that erased some possible fatigue and sluggishness.
Miami seems like they should get up for this game and match the intensity, but looking at a few other recent 2013 examples, I don’t think they’ll be able to do it. The Bulls visit is vivid example of sometimes a game just meaning MORE to the home team. You can bet this game means EVERYTHING to Indiana and their fans, even if the players won’t admit it.
I like Indiana to use their familiar recipe tonight; size and physicality, to exploit their advantages over the Heat. Indiana is clicking and Miami seems to be in cruise control a bit. Give me the Pacers to bring an enormous emotional effort and get a nice statement home win, as well as take a three-game lead in the Eastern Conference standings.