INDIANA PACERS (65-33)
at MIAMI HEAT (64-30)
NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Finals
Game 4 – Miami leads series 2-1
Tip-off: Monday, 8:35 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -6.5, Total: 183
After relinquishing a golden opportunity to win back home-court advantage on Saturday, the Pacers will look to tie up their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Heat on Monday night.
The team that has shot better has won every game of this series, with Miami prevailing in the past two contests with blistering shooting rates of 51% FG (40% threes) in Game 2 and 54% FG (56% threes) in Saturday's 99-87 victory. In the Game 2 home loss, Indiana made just 40% FG despite a hefty 47% clip from three-point range, but in Game 3, the club drained 48% FG and only 29% threes (6-of-21) in a game they led 19-5 late in the first quarter before getting outscored 94-68 the rest of the way. The Heat did a great job of staying even on the boards with a superior Pacers rebounding team with both clubs grabbing exactly 23 defensive rebounds and six offensive rebounds, and the points in the paint being 40-38 in favor of Miami. With Saturday's outcome, the Heat now hold a 16-11 SU (14-13 ATS) advantage in the past three seasons in this series, but they have completely dominated in South Beach, as Indiana is just 3-16 SU (7-12 ATS) in its past 19 visits to AmericanAirlines Arena. But the Pacers are a decent 26-22 SU (22-26 ATS) on the road this season, and they are also a stellar 31-17 ATS (65%) when coming off a road loss in the past two seasons. Miami has been a subpar 22-24-1 ATS at home, but is 38-9 SU when hosting this season. And although they are a mediocre 32-35-3 ATS with less than two days' rest this season, the Heat are an excellent 10-2 ATS when playing five or less games in a 14-day span. There are no significant injuries for either team.
Indiana has scored just 92.3 PPG this series, but the club has made 46.0% FG and 39.0% three-pointers in the three contests. During the regular season, the club averaged a more respectable 96.7 PPG, but was much less efficient with 44.9% FG and 35.7% threes. All five starters are averaging at least a dozen points in this series led by SF Paul George (18.3 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.7 RPG in series). But he didn't shoot very well in Game 3 when he scored only 17 points on 5-of-13 FG, 1-of-6 threes and 6-of-10 FT. He also committed four fouls and had a minus-10 rating. George's other starting frontcourt mates, C Roy Hibbert (15.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG in series) and PF David West (14.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.7 APG in series), played well offensively on Saturday with a combined 29 points on 12-of-21 FG (57%), but combined for a mere seven rebounds while each wound up with a minus-21 rating. If this trio does not play better against a smaller and weaker Heat frontcourt, they will not win another game this series. SG Lance Stephenson (17.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.3 SPG in series) has been the best all-around player for Indiana during the Eastern Conference Finals, making up for a poor 3-of-9 shooting night in Game 3 with a game-high 11 rebounds plus five assists and three steals. Stephenson has been off the mark all postseason on the road with shooting numbers of 43% FG (26% threes), which pale in comparison to home shooting rates of 48% FG and 45% threes. PG George Hill (12.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG in series) has shot 47% from three-point range in the East Finals, but both he and backup PG C.J. Watson (5.7 PPG in series) have more turnovers than assists in the three postseason meetings with Miami. Hill has only three assists and five turnovers in the series, while Watson has two assists and four turnovers. Watson also posted a minus-17 rating in his 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday.
The Heat were a great offensive team in the regular season with 102.2 PPG on 50.1% FG and 36.4% threes, and although they haven't scored as much versus an excellent Pacers defense with 94.0 PPG, their shooting percentages have been even better this series at 52.1% FG and 39.3% threes. SF LeBron James (24.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 6.0 APG, 3.0 SPG in series) and SG Dwyane Wade (24.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 SPG in series) have both scored 73 points this series on blistering shooting clips with James at 58% FG and Wade at 62% FG (3-of-5 threes). Even though James committed six turnovers in Game 3, he still pitched in 26 points, seven boards, five assists and four steals to produce a game-best rating of +24. Wade finished with 23 points, four boards, four assists, three steals and a solid +9 rating. SG Ray Allen (10.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG in series) is the only other Miami player averaging double-figure scoring in this series, as he has knocked down 47% FG and 54% threes (7-for-13). He made all four of his long-range tries on Saturday, finishing with 16 points and a +8 rating. PF Chris Andersen (6.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG in series) has also provided great energy in a reserve role, with his rebounding making up for the continued soft play of PF Chris Bosh (9.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG in series). While Andersen has a stellar +26 rating for the series, Bosh has a minus-28 mark, showing that the Heat have been much better with Andersen on the floor. The All-Star Bosh has scored exactly nine points in all three games this series, making only 36% FG (2-of-12 threes) with as many personal fouls as rebounds (12 each) in his 29.8 MPG. Miami's point-guard situation hasn't been much better than Indiana's floor generals. PGs Mario Chalmers (6.0 PPG, 3.0 APG in series) and Norris Cole (6.7 PPG in series) have just 14 assists and nine turnovers this series, but the combination did shoot well in Game 3 by making 7-of-11 FG.