Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals is here so let’s get to it.
Indiana at Miami (-7), Series Tied 1-1 – The first bit of news we need to address from the Eastern Conference Finals is that as of last night, Indiana star Paul George has been cleared to play. If you’ll recall, George took a sot to the back of the head in game two and was diagnosed with a concussion following the Pacers’ loss.
For him to have been cleared, that means he passed all of his post-concussion protocols. Keep in mind that these are not nearly as strenuous as the those in the National Football League but he must have passed them nevertheless. What we must still concern ourselves with in the wagering community however is how much can we expect him to actually play?
I have every reason to believe he’ll be fine and play his normal minutes but unfortunately we won’t really know the answer to that until the game is underway. My advice is proceed as normal as Head Coach Frank Vogel gives an indication on way or another.
On any team that has superstars like the Miami Heat do, there are always lesser players who do the dirty work necessary for the superstars and the team to survive. Both the 1990’s Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls had Dennis Rodman and the old showtime Lakers had Kurt Rambis. The Heat have several guys who we could possibly label in the same category but Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen fits better than all of the others.
The tattooed one played 29 minutes in game two off the bench and had just three points but that isn’t the story. He added 12 rebounds (10 defensive), an assist and a block to help LeBron James and Dwyane Wade take the game over late. Perhaps the most impressive number was his +25 while on the court. That number alone speaks volumes of just how important he is to the Heat’s success.
The +25 was a far cry from the +3 Andersen had in game one but even that ranked among the best for all the Heat players. Ultimately, will his play once again dictate whether the Heat win or lose? That’s for you to decide.
Indiana’s advantage going into this series was the size in the paint. Andersen certainly limited that with his rebounding in game two but if the Pacers are truly going to win this series they must have a greater advantage in the front-court. In game two, the Pacers defeated Miami 36-32 in points in the paint.
Shockingly, that was actually an improvement over game one where the Heat outscored the Pacers 54-38. Obviously Indiana still won but as I said, this trend cannot continue. David West has to be better than the 5 for 16 shooting he displayed in game two and Roy Hibbert has to be more of a scoring threat inside as well.
Game three is always a pivotal point in any series and most people love the Heat in this game as they return home with the split they wanted. My thinking is that Paul George will be fine and that, coinciding with the Pacers’ great road record in the playoffs this season has me taking them tonight getting seven huge points.
Take the UNDER tonight as well because I believe the two teams will start deploying tougher defense as the series goes on.
Keep an eye on…. Indiana is 1-7 straight up in its last eight games when playing on the road against Miami… Miami is 5-0 straight up in its last five games at home… Indiana is 8-16 against the spread in its last 24 games on the road… The total has gone OVER in four of Miami’s last five games and tonight’s O/U is 183.