Paul George did what star players do. The result is that the Indiana Pacers forced Game Six on Friday night in Miami. The Pacers got 21 of George’s 37 points in the fourth quarter to slide past the Miami Heat 93-90. The Pacers, as a team, scored 29 in the fourth quarter. Lebron James was in foul trouble, possibly making the $25,000 fine George received for criticizing officials after Game Four totally worth it, and the Heat superstar managed a playoff-low of just seven points. The Heat are a seven-point favorite to end the series in Game Six.
Even without Lebron’s services for most of the second quarter, the Heat took a 42-33 lead into the break, but George took over with a 31-point second half. The Pacers opened up a 20-4 run after James picked up two quick fouls and staved off a Miami comeback in the fourth quarter. Rashard Lewis was 6-of-9 from three-point range to chip in 18 points for the Heat, who were led by Dwyane Wade with 20.
The outcome should have been more lopsided, as the Pacers had 22 free throws to Miami’s eight, but went just 13-of-22 from the line. Without James in the game to attack the basket, Miami settled for plenty of outside shots, firing 31 three-point attempts. It was their 15 made three-pointers that kept the game close.
The Pacers rebounded and avoided a fourth-quarter collapse. The Heat were competitive, held a second half lead without their best player, and tied the game in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 11. Wednesday’s defeat was Miami’s first in their last seven games with a 3-1 series lead.
Was this the last gasp from the Pacers? Even without James in the lineup for much of the game, the win was a struggle and it took a tremendous effort from George to extend the series. Between George and David West, nobody else scored in the fourth quarter for the Pacers. They also missed three of their final five free throw attempts in trying to put the game away. All in all, it appears that the Pacers were fortunate to come away with a victory.
Looking ahead to Game Six, Miami is favored for the 16th consecutive game. They are now 9-6 in the previous 15 games. Miami has won seven straight at home and is 5-2 ATS at home in the postseason. The Pacers are 5-3 straight up and 5-3 ATS on the road this postseason. As a road underdog, they were 4-0 straight up and ATS before running into Miami in Games Three and Four and dropping to 4-2 straight up and ATS.
In NBA history, teams with a 3-2 series lead are 151-119 in their pursuit to end the series. The home team for Game Six with a 3-2 series lead is 53-29 all-time. With a 3-2 series lead, Miami has a 6-2 series record and has won five consecutive series. Trailing 3-2 in a series, the Pacers are just 1-10 in those series, with the lone win coming in the first round of the 2014 Playoffs. In Game Sixes with a 3-2 series, the Heat are 4-4 and the Pacers are 4-7.
Looking at some trends entering Game Six, the Heat are 4-1 in their last five games following an ATS loss. They are also 8-3 in their last 11 as a favorite. The Heat are 5-1 ATS in their last six as a home favorite of 5.0-10.5 points. The Pacers have not covered in each of their last seven games against a home team with a winning percentage of .600 or better. They are also just 7-21 ATS in their last 28 following a straight up win. The Pacers are 9-29 ATS in their last 38 games on one day of rest. The Pacers are just 4-12 ATS in their last 16 following an ATS win. The Pacers are, however, 7-3 ATS in their last 10 as an underdog. The Pacers are 3-0 straight up in elimination games this postseason.
For totals bettors, the Game Six total is at 183. The over is 6-1 in Miami’s last seven as a favorite and 7-1 in their last eight as a home favorite of 5.0-10.5 points. The over is 6-2 in Miami’s last eight following a loss and 7-3 in their last nine following an ATS loss. The over is 5-2 in Indiana’s last seven against a team with a winning percentage of .600 or better and 4-0 against a home team with that same record of success.
Pick: Miami Heat
Even without Lebron James, the Heat had opportunities to win the game late and showed more balance all game long than the Pacers did. Back on their home floor with a chance to put away a tired team and with the friendly home court officiating, it’s tough to see the Heat blowing a chance to advance to the Finals and having to make a return trip to Indianapolis. After posting a career low of seven points in a postseason game, expect James to bounce back in a very big way.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.