Indiana Pacers take Last Stand at Home Against the Miami Heat: Game 6

After an embarrassing defeat on the road in Game 5, the physically battered and emotionally-bruised Indiana Pacers will seek the shelter of their fans at their home arena to try and pull even in the best-of-seven series against the Miami Heat. With the Heat sitting just one game away from moving into the Eastern Conference Finals, tonight’s Game 6, with tip-off set for 8:00 PM ET time at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana will certainly be the top option for online sports betting today at one of the best sports betting websites reviewed here at CR.

The Indiana Pacers will certainly have their hands full trying to recover from what was a mess of Game 5, in which they lost by 32 points, 115-83, and saw two of their best players suffer injuries. Danny Granger, the Pacers top shooting forward and points leader, is set for Game 6, albeit with a sprained ankle that Indiana coach deemed as, “pretty bad”. David West, one of the team’s two biggest interior threats, had to leave Game 5 with a sprained knee, but will return to action in Game 6 as well. These are the two biggest question marks for the Pacers, who despite having a big advantage with their size and depth, have simply been unable to stop the powerful Miami Heat offensive attack, led by LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Even without Chris Bosh in the Heat lineup, the Pacers have struggled to maintain authority on the glass, getting outrebounded 49-35 in Game 5, and getting outscored 46-26 in the paint. Where the Pacers should have had an advantage with their size and strength in the interior, Miami has exploited the Pacers with their speed and agility, evident in the fact that 6’2″ point guard Mario Chalmers led the Heat in rebounding with 11 boards in Game 5, nearly becoming the game’s leading rebounder (Indiana’s 7’2″ Roy Hibbert had 12). Unless the Pacers, who only have one starter under 6’8″ can find a way to limit the amount of effectiveness Miami’s perimeter players have in the rebounding game, the Heat are going to once again have a huge advantage in a critical Game 6 tonight.

One interesting spin on tonight’s match-up is the suspension of Udonis Haslem, who has been the most effective bench scorer for the Heat in the last two games. Haslem was suspended due to a retaliatory flagrant foul against Pacers’ reserve Tyler Hansbrough, who’s own shot to the head of Dwayne Wade earned him a post-game flagrant-2 foul, which if issued during the game would have resulted in his ejection from the contest. With the Heat scratching their heads a bit, wondering why their player is sitting out and Hansbrough merely issued an after-the-fact slap on the wrist, it’s likely that there will be some bad blood spewing over to tonight’s match-up, especially when Hansbrough is on the court. However, more critical than getting even for the Heat is what they plan to do without yet another member of their front court, as without Haslem there are few stand-up players left on the Miami bench that they can be assured will contribute points and defensive presence. No matter, the onus for step-up play this evening will be on Ronny Turiaf, who has been a near non-entity on offense but has played decent defensively, and Joel Anthony, who has played better but still hasn’t been enough of a threat on offense to help balance the Miami scoring attack. With LeBron James having been stretched thin playing a power forward role with Chris Bosh out, the Heat could do their MVP a lot of favors by getting the rest of their big men to step up around the basket, and take some of the pressure off of King James’ shoulders. No doubt that if the Heat do move on tonight, they’ll need their star to be well rested, and void of any injuries that could be suffered while banging around in the paint during what is sure to be a very physical, very demanding Game 6 this evening.

For Indiana to force a Game 7 back in South Florida on Saturday, playing a full 4 quarters of basketball is essential. While that seems like common knowledge for a basketball team, putting it into practice, especially against a team the caliber of the Miami Heat, is extremely difficult in the playoffs. Indiana has to manage rotating its players well tonight, especially since Danny Granger and David West won’t be 100 percent. That puts a lot of added pressure on guys like Roy Hibbert, Paul George and George Hill to come up with better numbers throughout the game. Not one player on the Pacers squad scored more than 11 points in Game 5, and with West and Granger on limited minutes (and likely to not be as effective during the minutes they get), it’s time for the peripheral players to get aggressive and make plays for themselves. Leandro Barbosa, who averaged 11 points/game in the regular season but just 6.3 in the playoffs, has to be one of the contributing members to score in double digits. He’s quick, agile and able to penetrate the lanes, but it seems as though a lingering ankle injury has him hesitant in the playoffs this year. With no more games to play if the Pacers lose though, Barbosa needs to risk it all tonight and step up his game. Another Pacer that has to come up big; Tyler Hansbrough. The Heat are not going to play nice against Hansbrough when he’s in the lineup, but if he can pull defensive attention towards him and bring focus off of Roy Hibbert and the injured David West, it would be huge for Indiana tonight. Lastly, Darren Collison has to step up and take charge when he’s in the lineup and controlling the offense. With the Heat playing great perimeter defense, Collison had to be a playmaker and has to get the ball down to the basket or penetrate the lanes himself. Without Danny Granger and David West getting support from these guys, the Pacers can kiss their good playoff run goodbye.

Betting Lines for the Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers at TopBet Sportsbook.

The Miami Heat carry a slight advantage on the sports betting lines into Game 6 , getting -145 odds to win straight up. The betting lines have tightened a bit from earlier in the day, where the Heat had -150 odds to win, and the Pacers had +130 odds (now at +125 odds).

Against the spread, Miami is a 2.5 point favorite to win at -110 odds. With Indiana getting +2.5 points to play with, the bookmakers are expecting a much better showing out of the Pacers at home vs. Game 5, regardless of the fact that Indiana comes home with two of their top scorers banged up.

For the total points line, 182 points has been set for the over/under. Each of the last two contests have gone over the points total, but with questions around the health of the Pacers weighing on the over/under, there’s plenty of good reason to see why the total remains so low. That said, with players on both sides starting to feel some fatigue in this series, usually the first thing to slack off is the defensive form, which may play into account for those bettors looking to the over side of the total poins line. We’re going to play it saucy as well, and expect a higher scoring game as the pace should be quick, and the defense starts to lag towards the later stages of the game.

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