The Indiana Pacers are more than a five to one underdog to knock off the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami holds home court advantage and went 37-4 at American Airlines Arena this year. The Heat are 8-1 in the playoffs and 4-1 at home. Meanwhile Indiana went 19-21 away from home during the regular season, has gone 8-4 in the playoffs and 2-4 on the road in the postseason. So why do the Pacers stand a chance? They really don't.
Indiana fans have two reasons for optimism. First, their team was second in the league this season allowing only 90.7 points a game. Second, in three meetings with Miami, the Pacers won twice. Now the bad news, Indiana scores only 94.7 points a contest, the Heat limit opponents to 95 points a game while scoring nearly 103 points a contest, and the two Indiana wins against Miami this year took place at home.
Not only does it take a star player to win the NBA Finals, but it usually takes a star to make it. The last eight champions have included Lebron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan twice and Kobe Bryant three times. Runner-ups over that time span have included James twice, Kevin Durant, Piece, Dwight Howard, Bryant, and Nowitzki. Indiana's top four scorers are Paul George, David West, George Hill, and Roy Hibbert. Those four players have made four total All Star Games. James and Dwayne Wade have each been to nine All Star Games. Chris Bosh has gone to eight All Star Games.
In nine playoff games this season the Heat have outscored their opponents by nearly 14 points a contest. Indiana is averaging just under three points more per game than their opponents in this year’s postseason. During last year’s playoff series between these two teams Indiana split the opening two games in Miami by limiting the Heat to 95 points in a game one loss, and 75 points in a game two victory. After Indiana took the series lead with a 94-75 win in game three, Miami got motivated. The Heat averaged 107 points during wins in games four, five, and six while holding the Pacers to less than 90 points a contest.
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Dating back to the regular season the Heat have won 16 of their last 17 games and 45 of their last 47 contests. Indiana entered the playoffs having lost five of six and have had to be good but not great to beat the Hawks and Knicks advancing to face Miami.
Indiana is a good basketball team. They are not great. To beat Miami four times in seven games it takes greatness. I'll give you the Pacers at 10-1, they've had a good season but aren't advancing any further.