Eastern Conference Finals – Game Seven
It all comes down to this. One of the best and hardest fought series in recent memory will come down to a winner-take-all Eastern Conference Finals Game Seven. Will Lebron cement another chapter in his growing legacy and budding case to become the G.O.A.T? Or can Indiana do something NO TEAM has done in five months; beat the Heat in a second consecutive game? As a fan, you have to love the theatre of a Game Seven, and my only hope is that tomorrow we are talking about the basketball and not the officiating. I am NOT a conspiracy theory guy when it comes to the NBA (like many people are…), but just ask the Sacramento Kings what can happen in a Game Seven against an iconic team with an NBA Finals berth (and its accompanying TV ratings) on the line…
Let’s break down the decisive Game Seven, and try to finish with five wins A.T.S in this series.
Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat -7 (Total: 182)
Full disclosure – I was at the Indiana v. Miami Game Six live, and I know watching a game live gives one a much different feel for the teams than watching a broadcast. For one, you see the entire floor, so you can learn what players are doing when they don’t have the ball. You see Dwyane Wade getting down the floor a little awkwardly and more slowly than usual. You see the tendency for the Pacers to get stagnant and not initiate their offense until the shot clock is in single digits – especially when Augustine is spelling George Hill. And you see long stretches where Indiana is not only rebounding, but has interior position on nearly every Heat player on the floor should a rebound be necessary.
You also do not get subtle influenced by the perceptions of the broadcasters and analysts. However, you DO get undeniably influenced by the crowd around you. Being as the game was in Indy, you hear mostly partisan Pacers armchair analysis from the fans.
However, after watching every second of this series – all six games, you get a pretty good feel for what teams do well and where they struggle. For the Heat, the struggles are evident – they cannot defend well enough on the interior, and Chris Bosh has absolutely vanished. Shane Battier has been rendered useless by Indiana’s ability to cover the corner three-pointer, and Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen look old and banged up against Indiana’s physicality.
For Indiana, the problems are also evident. Their bench isn’t very good and they turn the ball over more often, and occasionally more carelessly, that just about any team I can ever remember advancing this deep into the postseason.
So once again, it comes down to who makes shots. My take on Haslem remains the same as it was last game – he isn’t going 8 of 9 again. So who for Miami steps up and helps the King take another step toward the crown? If your hopes are pinned on Norris Cole, Mike Miller and Chris Bosh having his first decent game of the season, I think you are asking a bit much.
Does this mean Indiana wins tonight? I’m not quite ready to go definitive on that prediction. But I do like them getting seven points. They’ve been the better team for about 19 of the 24 quarters played so far. When the Heat were better though, they were WAY better – as in explosive offense, quick turnover defense and capable of putting together a run to put the game out of reach.
As long as Indy can stay close early, I like it to be a close game throughout. I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to officiating, but it is hard to see calls going AGAINST Wade and Lebron down the stretch of a Game Seven at home… Either way, I look for a tight, tense and exciting game. I’m sticking with the Pacers one last time, as they’ve been 4-2 ATS in this series and treated me well so far…
Free Pick: Indiana Pacers +7