The Miami Heat are one of the East's most dangerous teams, and will look to complete a four-game sweep in Monday's showdown with the Indiana Pacers in Orlando.
With outstanding defensive effort, numerous shooters and strong leadership from Jimmy Butler and coach Erik Spoelstra, Miami hasn't looked this good since the LeBron era. Getting some extra rest before Round 2 by winning this one would be invaluable for the Heat.
In the remainder of abe Insights' preview, you'll find analysis of the primary betting lines, listings of the best odds, key stats to consider and more to help your thought process before you throw down wagers.
Date: Monday, August 24
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Pacers 31%; Heat 71%
Spread: MIA -6
Moneyline: IND +220; MIA -240
This series might've been more interesting had Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis been able to play. Unfortunately, he's been out of action since March. Although he's in the bubble, it's unlikely Sabonis will rejoin Indiana on Monday or for the rest of the playoffs.
Without Sabonis to crash the glass and be a presence in the paint, Miami has been able to drive to the basket throughout the series and either finish, dish out to shooters or get to the free throw line often.
25.0 vs. 20.7: This is where a double-double machine like Sabonis is missed on the glass. Miami has logged a 25% offensive rebound rate over the past three wins, whereas Indiana's figure in the same area is third-lowest among playoff teams.
14.3 vs. 9.7: One aspect the Pacers have a big edge in during this series is fast break points. They've been able to beat the Heat in transition, and must continue to exploit that gap if they're meant to have any chance at a Game 4 victory.
42.7 vs. 37.4: Lastly, the simple category of 3-point shooting percentage in the playoffs. Miami has more than a five-point edge here, and given that the three games have been decided by an average of 10 points, it's a really significant stat to show why the Heat are on the precipice of advancing.
Game 3 was tough for Indiana, because after falling behind 74-56 at halftime, the Pacers rallied to cut the lead to four through three quarters — only to lose in the end anyway. Getting swept is never fun, so coach Nate McMillan's squad must play its best yet to stay alive.
But it won't help if Indy can't stop fouling, something McMillian was miffed by in discussing what transpired in the last contest, when Miami attempted a ridiculous 52 free throws.
"I can't explain that," said McMillan, per ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps. "I mean, 52 free throws is ridiculous. They had 24 at the half, Butler shoots 20 of them...this is the playoffs, and I thought some of those calls were...I can't explain it."
All-Star guard Victor Oladipo fouled out and played only 34 minutes. If he can stay out of foul trouble and play to the level he's flashed in the past, Oladipo can combine with backcourt mate Malcolm Brogdon to give the Heat problems on the perimeter. Brogdon played great in Game 3, scoring 34 points and dishing out 14 assists.
T.J. Warren could really make a difference for the Pacers if he gets hot. Following a torrid stretch to close the regular season, though, Warren hasn't been quite as explosive. Indiana has won its last seven in which Warren scored 30 points or more, and it'll likely take that kind of effort to extinguish the Heat on Monday.
Between Butler, Goran Dragic off the bench, sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and all-purpose matchup nightmare Bam Adebayo, Miami presents so many different dimensions on offense, and Indiana obviously hasn't been able to keep up.
The odds are really stacked against the Pacers on both lines. Despite legal sports betting picking up in Indiana, don't expect the majority of action to go away from the Heat's spread. However, the Pacers' moneyline is a strong hedge play.
Regarding the point total, the oddsmakers' combined score projection as of this writing seems about right. Both teams are sound defensively when they're locked in, but combined for 239 points in Game 3 despite 30 turnovers, so look for bets to side on the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 9:05 a.m. ET on Monday, August 24.
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