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Heat and Pacers square off Tuesday night
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/10/2013  at  5:17:00 AM
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Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -3.5, Total: 190

Two of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams square off on Tuesday night when the Heat wrap up their four-game road trip versus the Pacers.

Miami defeated the Pistons 110-95 on Sunday to win its second straight road game (SU and ATS), but that same night Indiana got destroyed by the Thunder 118-94 in the second game of a road back-to-back. The Pacers and Heat have not met since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season where Miami rolled to a 99-76 home win despite shooting just 39.5% FG. Over the past three seasons, the Pacers are 10-10 ATS (8-12 SU) in this series, including 6-4 (SU and ATS) when hosting the Heat. As the coach of Miami, Erik Spoelstra is 27-12 ATS (69%) in road games after two straight double-digit wins. Indiana, however, is 12-3 ATS (80%) as a favorite this season and 22-7 ATS (76%) off a road loss over the past two seasons. On the injury front, SG Dwyane Wade (knee) will likely play in this game for Miami, but SF Michael Beasley (hamstring) is questionable.

Which surging team will prevail on Monday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Forecaster has been profitable so far this season with a 53.2% ATS record (50-44-1) in featured games, while the five experts are at 55% ATS (53-44-1) on Best Bets since Nov. 12. During this timeframe, StatFox Zach has a stellar 65% ATS mark (13-7), StatFox Scott is a robust 61% ATS (11-7-1) and StatFox Gary carries a strong 58% ATS record (11-8).

Miami has bounced back from a two-game losing skid with two wins in a row over the Timberwolves and Pistons, outshooting these two clubs 55% FG to 36% FG. The Heat have played great team basketball to start the year despite being without Dwyane Wade at times this season. Miami is averaging 23.9 APG (5th in NBA), which has helped lead to 103.5 PPG (6th in league). The defense has also been stellar, as the Heat are allowing just 95.9 PPG (6th in NBA). SF LeBron James has played at an MVP level once again this season, leading the team in points (25.4 PPG), rebounds (6.2 RPG) and assists (6.3 APG). He also dominated Indiana in the playoffs with 29.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.4 SPG and 1.4 BPG in the seven-game series. Miami will need PF Chris Bosh (14.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG) to play better as the Pacers have one of the best frontcourts in the league. Bosh has struggled shooting the ball over the past three games, averaging just 11.3 PPG on 41% FG (0-of-6 threes), and was held to 11.0 PPG on 38% FG and 4.3 RPG in the playoffs versus Indiana. SG Dwyane Wade (18.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.7 RPG) must also play well for the Heat against this relentless Pacers defense, but Wade may be a bit sluggish after missing three of the Heat’s past four games. Wade had an inconsistent series versus Indiana, but still averaged a solid 15.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 4.3 APG in the seven games.

Indiana is 18-3 SU (15-6 ATS), but lost its most recent game to the Thunder in pretty horrific fashion, getting outshot 61% FG to 40% FG. Still, the Pacers are one of the toughest teams in the league and will be a very difficult matchup for the Heat, who lack an interior presence. Indiana has the league’s best defense, allowing an NBA-low 89.5 PPG on 40.8% FG, while ranking sixth in the league in rebounding margin (+3.2 RPG). SF Paul George (25.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.4 APG) has been outstanding this season, and over the past five games, he's averaging 29.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.6 APG and 2.0 SPG. His length makes life on LeBron James a little tougher than usual, and he had a huge East Finals last year with 19.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 5.1 APG, but also committed 32 turnovers in the seven games. C Roy Hibbert (12.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 3.1 BPG) will draw Chris Bosh on defense and he should be able to take advantage of that matchup, as his 7-foot-2, 290-pound frame will be overwhelming. Hibbert had little trouble scoring on the small Miami lineup in the playoffs with 22.1 PPG (56% FG), 10.4 RPG in the seven-game series. PG George Hill (11.7 PPG, 3.9 APG) has a very winnable matchup against Mario Chalmers at the point guard position, but he has struggled recently with only 8.7 PPG and 2.0 APG over the past three games. Hill must find his stroke (40% FG this season) to make the Heat pay for double-teaming Hibbert or PF David West (12.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.1 APG), who tallied 16.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG against Miami in the East Finals.

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