Hot Dogs and ‘LeBron Watch’ on my Saturday Agenda

Chestnut
Chestnut
Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut won his eighth straight Hot Dog eating title but until they eat hot dogs the right way I'm not interested anymore.

I look forward to the Fourth of July for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost is that it’s my wedding anniversary (16 years thank you very much). Secondly is that it is usually a great day for baseball and of course the food and drink are about as good as it gets in the summertime.

Those are great reasons and all to love Independence Day but let’s face it; the fireworks don’t start until the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest gets underway at Noon. For the eighth straight year, Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut wolfed down more hot dogs than anyone else as he devoured 61 dogs and buns in ten minutes.

Chestnut has placed himself at the top of the competitive eating world despite the on-going controversy with his formerly top rival Kobayashi who once won six-straight hot dog eating contests. He is no longer able to compete in the event because he refused to sign a deal with Major League Eating. MLE is essentially the NFL of competitive eating.

I’ve always enjoyed the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest but I’ll be honest about something. It’s not legitimate in my opinion for one specific reason; no one eats hot dogs by dipping the buns in the water. It’s gross and completely ridiculous. An eating contest should emulate the way people eat the item in question. Therefore, dunking buns in water in an effort to eat more should be banned.

I know, I know… He’s talking about the National Hot Dog Eating contest on a sports betting blog but let me tell ya that this is one very serious discussion! The MLE is a very serious thing people!

I love the eating contest but until they recognize that eating a hot dog without water is the proper way to go then I’m just not biting anymore.

LeBron
Carmelo is clearly waiting to see where LeBron goes. Could it be the same place?

Is LeBron Narrowing Things Down?

It’s clear that LeBron James is doing things much differently than he did in 2010 leading up to his ‘decision.’ This time around James is doing his thing while his Cleveland-based agent Rich Paul is doing the leg work. ESPN is reporting that Paul has met with Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Cleveland this past week. The Los Angeles Lakers also have reportedly made a pitch as well.

The one team you’ll notice absent among that group is the Miami Heat. While I don’t believe the Heat are completely out of the running I do think it’s starting to look less likely that James will return.

The economic impact that James’ ultimate decision will make is varied based upon his destination, but if you think this is just about James winning championships then think again.

One report suggested that if the NBA were without a salary cap James could make as much as $50 million per season. That isn’t going to happen but the financial impacts are great regardless. If you look at the number of fans James drew to Miami then that should give you a good idea of what impact he can have.

Take a look at Phoenix for example where LeBron’s presence would easily push Suns’ gear into the top five league-wide. Typically teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and Heat are your top sellers but Phoenix would most certainly replace Miami with LeBron in town.

As of right now, everything I’m seeing and hearing tells me that Cleveland is the front-runner. Let’s not forget the impact a wife and three kids can have on one’s decision in these matters. That said, who the other teams can bring along with LeBron may ultimately be the biggest factor in his decision.

Spurs Look to Close Out the Heat Tomorrow Night in Texas

LeBron and Wade
LeBron and Wade
Could tonight be the end of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade or will they force a game six back home?

I can’t recall the last series I’ve been so wrong about. I’m pretty sure that every one of the first four games of the NBA Finals I’ve had completely wrong. Therefore, you should probably do the exact opposite of what I’m about to suggest for tomorrow night.

Miami at San Antonio (-6), Spurs lead series 3-1 – Of all the games I’ve been the most wrong about game four takes the cake. There was no way I saw the Miami Heat, who had lost game three on their home-court, losing again. Remember this was a team that just didn’t lose back-to-back games and especially in the playoffs.

The entered game four with the third-longest streak of not losing back-to-back playoff games in league history. They trailed only the Jordan-Era Bulls and the dynastic Celtics of the 1960’s.

We can throw those stats and numbers out the window now because LeBron James and company are now hanging on for dear life. Watching San Antonio dismantle the Miami defense the other night was a thing of beauty. It’s what basketball was supposed to be when Dr.James Naismith invented it. Passing and moving the ball among all five players on the court was like art work being performed by the Spurs.

In an era of “let the best player go one-on-one off a screen,” San Antonio displayed everything that was good about offensive basketball. So impressive was the Spurs’ game four win that every player on the team scored. Knowing that bench scoring had been issue, Miami actually scored 30 points in that department. Still, San Antonio was better scoring 41 off of the pine.

Miami had done a decent job of battling San Antonio in the paint as well but that stat was blown up too. The Spurs dominated 46-30 in the key and while playing solid defense at the other end as well.

Ginobili
Manu Ginobili has been a lightning rod for the Spurs despite not scoring a lot of points.

If you need any further demonstration of the ‘team aspect’ of the Spurs than look no further than Manu Ginobili. The Argentinian scored just seven points but he had a whopping +27 for the game which illustrates the energy and intensity he and his teammates brought to the floor.

Short of LeBron James going off for a 40-point night tomorrow, I just don’t see how this team survives the balanced Spurs in game five. Dwyane Wade has been accused of looking tired and perhaps he is, but I think it has more to do with his nagging knees. Chris Bosh has disappeared for the most part and the role players like Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers have been neutralized.

It would be incredibly easy to blame some of the on-court issues of the Heat on the off-court topics that are being discussed but I guarantee the players wouldn’t use that excuse. Still, it must be difficult knowing the media is more interested in where LeBron will play in the fall and whether Carmelo Anthony is joining the Big Three in Miami.

I really, really want to take Miami to win this because if they do I believe this goes to a game seven where anything can happen but I can’t.The Spurs have been too good and too balanced at both ends and there has only been one close game in this series and that was Miami’s two-point win in game two. Take the Spurs to cover tomorrow night and I like the OVER. The O/U is at 196 by the way.

Keep an eye on… Miami is 4-16 straight up in its last 20 games when playing on the road against San Antonio… The total has gone UNDER in four of San Antonio’s last six games at home… Miami is 6-13-1 against the spread in its last 20 games when playing on the road against San Antonio… San Antonio is 9-1 straight up in its last 10 games at home.

Must-Win for the Heat in Game Four?

Leonard
Leonard
Kawhi Leonard was a beast in game three but can he follow that up in game four?

If you follow trends, then all you need to know is that in the era of the ‘big three’ in Miami, they have won 13 straight games following a loss.  Last year in this same situation, the Heat followed a blowout loss to San Antonio with a big win of their own. Therefore, I really don’t need to go any further here do I?

Of course I do especially after I was dead wrong about game three. While I thought Kawhi Leonard was due for a big game I still thought the Heat would be happy to be home and would get the win. Such is life in the betting community.

On to game four…

San Antonio at Miami (-5), Spurs lead 2-1 – Sometimes there are few answers to seemingly easy questions. That must have been how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra must have felt during the first half of game three. While watching the Spurs shot 76%, Spoelstra knew his team had to play better defense but it wasn’t that bad.

Bosh
I expect Chris Bosh to bounce back and have big game tonight.

The Spurs were just flat-out draining everything whether the Heat were playing solid defense on them or not. A closer look at game three though reveals some things were just not happening for the Heat that should have been. Chris Bosh was a non-factor while Mario Chalmers continues to struggle with his shooting and overall game.

As poorly as Miami played, they had the Spurs ‘ lead cut to seven in the fourth quarter and a victory would have been one of the great all-time comebacks in NBA Finals’ history. The Heat have to hang their hat on that because there’s no way they’ll play that poorly tonight.

We must give credit where it is due and that means crediting Gregg Popovich and the adjustments he made. It certainly helps when Kawhi Leonard is aggressive at both ends of the floor and hits for a career high in points. His defense on LeBron James may have been just as important though as he gave James little space with which to operate.

Popovich also started Boris Diaw in place of Tiago Splitter and that move paid big dividends as the Spurs’ were much more successful on the offensive end of the court with Diaw in the game. How Spoelstra counters this will be one of the keys for tonight.

It would be very easy for me to just settle on trends that clearly favor Miami. Twice the Heat and the ‘big three’ have faced 2-1 deficits and in both cases they went on to win the series. I’m not just going to rely on trends though because there is no way LeBron is going to follow up a very pedestrian game with another one.

I expect James to go for at least 30 points tonight but I also expect five or more assists and several of those will go to Chris Bosh who has to be more of a factor and he will be. This isn’t to say the Spurs can’t win this game because they most certainly can but this really is a must-win for Miami. If they go down 3-1, they would be facing a situation where they’d have to win three straight including two in San Antonio.

I like Miami to cover tonight and I also like the OVER which currently sits at 197.

Keep an eye on… San Antonio is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games on the road… Miami is 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games when playing at home against San Antonio… San Antonio is 4-1 straight up in its last five games… The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Miami’s last 23 games when playing at home against San Antonio.

Game Three Up Tonight in the NBA Finals

Parker and LeBron
Parker and LeBron
With LeBron James guarding Tony Parker, the Spurs will need to adjust things offensively.

To no one’s surprise the Miami Heat evened the NBA Finals with San Antonio at one game apiece. Only the 1990’s Chicago Bulls and the great Boston Celtics’ teams of the 1960’s have gone more NBA Playoff games without losing back-to-back games. Despite the loss, the Spurs actually played pretty well but they are still not getting consistency from certain players to make the difference.

Game three is tonight on South Beach and teams that win game three in a series tied at one go on to win about 80% of the time. That said, San Antonio followed this script last season but still lost. Will San Antonio follow the same plan? Lets find out.

San Antonio at Miami (-4.5), Series tied 1-1 – According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and numerous other sources, LeBron James was seething in the hours following game one. According to Windhorst, James got very little sleep and it wasn’t due to the cramps he suffered from the day prior. Apparently James was incensed that people would question his toughness and physical stamina after he was forced to leave the game in which the Spurs went on to win.

It was that type of motivation in mind that left me with no other path but to believe that James would come out roaring in game two. I was only kind of right as James scored just two points in the opening stanza. He would however go on to score 35 total and assisted on the key basket to clinch the game.

With the issues of game one now in the past, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has work to do. First and foremost he has to address the team’s offensive gameplan since LeBron guarded Tony Parker in a very calculated move to disrupt the San Antonio offense. Popovich should be able re-position guys on the floor and force LeBron back down but they may only work if the Spurs are hitting open outside shots.

Leonard
The Spurs could use more consistency from Kawhi Leonard at both ends of the court.

Coming off of game one, there were a couple of areas that I thought the Heat needed to address. They were outscored 34-20 in bench points in game one and I thought that needed to change. It changed alright but for the worse as the Spurs bench outscored Miami 37-12. While I still feel this is a factor in the series it obviously wasn’t in game two.

Points in the paint was another area the Heat had to change and in this case they did. Miami outscored the Spurs 44-34 and ultimately that was the difference in the game.

To this point, Popovich is getting good performances from Tim Duncan and Tony Parker but he needs more from guys like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. They combined for 18 points in game two but are not consistently threats. That has to change.

The Spurs need to stop shooting themselves in the foot at the free throw line. They were just 12 of 20 for a horrid 60% and hitting just three more of those gives them a 2-0 lead.

A lot of things point to a Spurs win tonight but I’m not going there. I think the starters for Miami will score enough and the bench will provide just enough in the way of rebounding and a few points here and there. Until Duncan and some other Spurs show themselves in the fourth quarter my confidence in them is waning. Take Miami to cover and I love the OVER here which is set at 198.

Keep an eye on… San Antonio is 10-4 straight up in its last 14 games… Miami is 13-4 straight up in its last 17 games… San Antonio is 2-7 against the spread in its last nine games on the road… The total has gone OVER in seven of Miami’s last eight games at home.

Heat Look to Even Things Up Tonight in Texas

Birdman
Birdman
Chris 'Birdman' Andersen has to contribute more to even the bench discrepancy against the Spurs.

I would really like to do my best to focus on the basketball rather than LeBron James’ cramping problems but that will be hard to avoid because his absence made a significant difference in the outcome of game one. That said, every player on the floor had to deal with the 90 degree conditions so using that as an excuse will not fly with me.

Hopefully game two is less dramatic in terms of anything other than basketball. Let’s discuss it…

Miami at San Antonio (-4.5), Spurs Lead 1-0 – I’m throwing this out there right now; I fully expect LeBron James to have a monster game tonight in game two. The consistently negative attention, social media mockery and overall questioning of his mental and physical toughness will motivate him to a huge performance. Whether that will lead the Heat to a victory or not is uncertain, but I like him having a big night.

LeBron
I look for LeBron to have a monster game tonight in game two.

Two interesting stats that came out of the Spurs’ game one victory were points in the paint and fast break points. San Antonio outscored the Heat 48-36 in the paint which isn’t totally shocking but the fact they also outscored Miami in fast break points, 20-19, was a little more unexpected. The Heat is not used to losing the stat but the Spurs tend to get back on defense as well as any team.

One particular area where the Spurs were expected to dominate and did was in bench scoring. San Antonio outscored Miami 34-20 in bench points and with the Spurs being the deeper team this isn’t surprising. Guys like Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen and Shane Battier need to assist Ray Allen who was the only bench player in double-figures in game one. The Heat needs to find more scoring and rebounding in game two.

Another area I would look for the Heat to address is getting to the free throw line more often. In game one, they took just 11 free throws, making nine and that just isn’t going to do it. When this type of thing happened in the Eastern Conference Finals, the following game always saw Miami get to the free throw line much more often.

The rule of thumb in the NBA Playoffs is that the home team is going to get the bulk of the 50-50 calls and that’s held pretty true so far in these playoffs. That said, officials also reward teams that are aggressive and I have every expectation that will be the Heat tonight.

If you’re looking for the one stat that will force your hand in wagering today than look no further than this one; during the era of the big three, the Heat is 5-0 following game one losses in the playoffs. Consider also that teams in the NBA that take 2-0 leads in the NBA Finals go on to win 90% of the time.

The over/under tonight is 199 and I like the over with Miami needing a big performance being the motivating factor. I also like Miami getting the points. Remember also that the NBA Finals no longer has the 2-3-2 format so game five will be back in San Antonio. The change could be a significant factor in this series.

Keep an eye on… Miami is 2-4 against the spread in its last six games when playing San Antonio… San Antonio is 10-3 straight up in its last 13 games… Miami is 3-16 straight up in its last 19 games when playing on the road against San Antonio… The total has gone OVER in four of San Antonio’s last five games when playing at home against Miami.

LeBron Has an Opportunity to Recover From ‘Cramp-gate.’

LeBron cramps
LeBron cramps
LeBron James has taken a beating from journalists and social media folks but he can recover from this.

Just last week I espoused my feelings about LeBron James. After years being unable to accept him as worthy of the same plateau as the all-time greats, I had come around. I found LeBron James to have matured. I found him to be suddenly likable and he had a way with the press he hadn’t before. While I’m not ready to compare him to Michael Jordan, I wrote that at the very least, I’ve accepted him.

If you’re expecting me to go back on those sentiments, I’m not. But I am wavering and I have serious concerns about him moving forward. Still, James can put the game one horrors to bed by leading this Miami Heat team to a third-straight title and don’t think it can’t happen.

When James exited in the fourth quarter, the Spurs were reeling. It looked very much like Miami was going to steal game one and take hold of home-court advantage. That didn’t happen and the Spurs found their groove as they rolled to victory behind Tim Duncan and Danny Green. Unfortunately for LeBron, the comments were coming fast and furious before the game was even decided.

If you aren’t familiar with social media, then the term ‘trolling’ might not mean anything to you. What it means, especially in Twitter parlance, is that someone is tweeting about you or to you in an effort to get a reaction from you. While I had every expectation that people watching the game would be doing this I had no idea that Gatorade would lead the trolling parade.

LeBron is a Powerade guy so when the cramps started, Gatorade took advantage and trolled him hard during the fourth quarter. Such is sports in the 21st century.

Former Golden State Head Coach and current ESPN color man Mark Jackson said at one point that “the great ones find a way to tell their bodies that this isn’t the time.” Jackson has taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) for those comments but I understand what Jackson was saying and I don’t think he necessarily wrong.

The biggest problem for LeBron is that the conditions of the arena affected everyone, not just him. Even his own teammates talked afterward about how the conditions didn’t bother them at all. Chris Bosh said he played in hotter gyms growing up in Texas. In fact, no one else seemed to suffer one bit from playing in the 90 degree heat.

Excuses ran wild this morning about how James’ musculature were prime for such cramping and the like. ESPN threw out the question of whether the lack of air conditioning was the cause of the Heat losing about 30 times in the first two minutes of every program. Let’s be clear; yes the Heat was winning but we can’t say they would have held on anymore than we can say they wouldn’t have under normal conditions.

James has an extraordinary opportunity to overcome this game one embarrassment but he’ll also face ‘conspiracy theorists’ who’ll wonder if the whole thing wasn’t rigged.

What James can do is score and play out of his mind. Whether the Heat win in five, six or seven games, huge performances by him can make this incident in game one a distant memory. The LeBron-haters will be silenced however briefly but they won’t have much of an argument should he have the last laugh.

Whether he will or not is must-see TV.

NBA Prop Bets For Your Entertainment Purposes Only Of Course

Duncan
Duncan
You could wager on how many points Tim Duncan will score or how many times someone says "fundamentals" regarding his game.

Last night in San Antonio the NBA Finals got underway as the Spurs entertained the two-time defending champions from Miami. If you’re like myself and you really don’t have a dog in this fight, then that can sometimes make wagering easier or in some cases harder.

Whenever I get myself into one of these predicaments (or any time a championship is being played) I like to look for some other ways of winning a few bucks. There is no better way to do this than with prop bets.

If you wager the Super Bowl then you already are a prop betting veteran because the NFL’s premier game has it all. With this idea in mind, here are some prop bets for you to check out over at Bovada.lv and some you can perhaps play at home with some friends.

First team to score in the game. This is essentially like asking what a coin flip will result in when it lands. Unless a team has a decided advantage at the jump, stay away from this one.

First team to score 10 points (or 20 or 30 and so on). This one is actually possible to put some faith into because if you study the teams closely enough you can discern if they are getting out to leads in the majority of their games or not. Take the Heat for example; they trailed at the end of the first quarter in four of their six games in the Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana.

Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra's Heat trailed at the end of the first quarter in four of six games against the Pacers.

Quarter spreads. Again,this may take some homework in order to figure out if either San Antonio or Miami has a decided edge when it comes to scoring in a particular quarter. Otherwise, this really is a roll of the dice and some of it will depend on how the series is unfolding.

First half/End of game totals. You can start with total points for each; the Spurs are averaging about 105 per game while the Heat are averaging about 102 per game. This too will depend upon the progression of the series.

Winning margin. You can do this one of two ways; you can go over to Bovada or your favorite betting set and look at the odds for either team wining by a certain amount OR you can just simply lay the number you think a team wins by and do it that way. Always think simplicity and creativity people!

Total games in the series. Despite game one being already in the books, you can still put money down on how many games you think the series will go. You can do this and name the winning team or just put the number out there and leave it at that.

Will any game go into overtime? Now this is one I like because I think this is going to be another close, six or seven game series and the chances of games going into overtime are quite high in my opinion. I strongly suggest this prop.

While the above are the type of things you’ll find at most betting websites, you can also get creative with the following…

What celebrity is most likely to be seen in Miami?

How many times does someone refer to Tim Duncan’s “fundamentals?”

How many times is Michael Jordan’s name mentioned?

Will the Lakers have a new head coach by the end of the Finals?

Will anyone from the Spurs blow into LeBron James’ ear?

Prop bets are in many ways a way for you to have fun but also for you to show your knowledge as well. Enjoy the Finals!

 

 

 

 

Why You Could Benefit From Some Great NHL and NBA Finals Action

quick-lundqvist
quick-lundqvist
Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist could provide us a fantastic goalie duel in the Stanley Cup Finals.

If you call yourself a hockey fan then you darn well had better have been watching game seven of the Western Conference Finals Sunday night. Both the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks left every ounce of what they had in the tank on the ice before the Kings prevailed in overtime. It was great hockey that featured great saves, great passing and intense action.

The National Basketball Association didn’t need a game seven to establish its’ final between two-time defending champion Miami and the Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs. Both teams disposed of their opponents in six games and now face each other in NBA Finals for the second straight year. This hasn’t happened since the Bulls-Jazz match-ups in the 1990’s.

Both the Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA Finals could offer you some interesting opportunities to make some money.

In the NHL, you’ll need to determine whether the LA Kings are tired or whether they will ride a wave of energy and enthusiasm in the early going of the Cup Finals. The New York Rangers have had plenty of rest and normally I’d side with the Rangers in the first two games of the series but let’s consider what I think is a very key piece to this potential dilemma.

If the Kings were heading straight to New York to play the Rangers in games one and two in Madison Square Garden, I would give more credence to them being worn down by the series with the Blackhawks but I think this case is a bit different. LA gets to return home for the first two games and the Rangers have to travel across the continent to play the Kings.

Despite playing all 21 possible games in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, I think being at home will be a big boost for the Kings. Much like baseball momentum is dictated by tomorrow’s starting pitcher, hockey is often dictated by the men between the pipes and Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist could have one of the great duels in recent Cup Finals’ history.

You’ll need to do some homework on these two but the opportunities are there for you to win in this series.

LeBron
Lay your money on LeBron to lead the Heat in scoring in each game of the Finals.

In the NBA, you should have a great chance for success when it comes to prop bets. The series itself will be as tough as ever to make a call on. I’ve already seen many of the top NBA analysts calling this series for the Heat in six or seven or they like the Spurs in six or seven. It’s almost a total 50/50 split among guys on some of the top NBA sites.

Much like the NHL, you’ll need to do some serious homework in order to figure the game to game winners but let’s get back to those prop bets. If you like picking the leading scorer of each game then turn your attention to Miami. You can bank on LeBron James leading the Heat in scoring as he does almost every time the Heat take the floor.

The Spurs are a different story because of their balance and it could be even more so if Tony Parker can’t go due to the bad ankle. Anyone from Tim Duncan to Manu Ginobili to Danny Green could lead the Spurs so I’d steer clear of the Spurs in that area.

Most three-pointers is another area to take a chance because both teams can hit from downtown. I’d lean towards the Heat here because of Ray Allen but don’t for a second forget about the Spurs.

Make sure you look over all of the prop bets going off in this series and you can start over at bovada.lv.

 

Miami Looks for Clincher at Home Tonight in South Beach

James and Wade
James and Wade
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are unbeaten in clinching games at home in Miami.

Here is what is going to give tonight in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals; Miami is 9-0 at home in series clinching games during the days of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Meanwhile the Pacers are 3-0 in road elimination games so far in this year’s playoffs.

Which way do I see this game going tonight? Read on…

Indiana at Miami (-7), Heat Leads Series 3-2 – If you noticed the somewhat laid-back attitude of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the postgame press conference it was likely due to the fact that James had his worst playoff game as a professional yet the Heat still had a chance to defeat the Pacers on their homecourt.

James scored just seven points and played only 22 minutes as he spent much of the in foul trouble. His Miami teams are 0-9 when he scores under 15 points so we shouldn’t be surprised by the outcome.

It was obvious to me that the officiating changed drastically from game four to game five. Of James’ five fouls I would say only one was a legitimate foul. The rest were highly questionable. The “noise” among NBA fans in these situations always banks on conspiracy.

The league obviously wants the Heat in the finals for overwhelmingly logical reasons. This theory is blown out the window if Chris Bosh’s three-pointer connects or does it? Miami would have still gone to the Finals which make the television people happier than pig in slop.

George
Paul George has to keep shooting if his Pacers are to have a chance.

All the loss to Indiana does in the league’s eyes is delay the inevitable. If that’s the way one thinks anyway…Besides the struggles of James, the other story was Paul George who followed his coach’s advice and stayed “green.” George was 15 for 28 for 37 points in game five and essentially willed his team to victory with clutch shots. He has to continue doing this if they are to have any chance at making the comeback in this series.

Roy Hibbert is far too inconsistent to rely on and scoring from anyone else is not steady either. George just needs to keep shooting or in the words of George Costanza, “be a chucker.”

The Heat have to be confident coming home after playing as poorly as they possibly could have yet they nearly won the game. It’s almost the closest thing to a sure thing to pencil in 25 points, seven boards and five assists for James if not more. I expect Wade to be better and don’t be surprised if ‘Birdman’ Andersen returns following a two-game absence.

As you know, I’ve been pretty awful in this series. Each time I think one thing the other happens and yet I’m not giving up. The numbers just don’t add up to anything positive for Indiana. The Heat just don’t lose games in this situation and they aren’t going to this evening either. The trends point to the OVER and I really like Miami to cover as well.

The Heat will enjoy a little extra rest time as the Spurs and Thunder duke it out in the Western Conference.

Keep an eye on… Indiana is 8-17 against the spread in their last 25 games on the road… Miami is 5-0 straight up in its’ last five games at home… Indiana is 2-4 in its’ last six games against Miami… The total has gone OVER in six of Miami’s last seven games at home… The O/U tonight is 183.

Heat Look to Close Out the Pacers Tonight in Indy

Hibbert
Hibbert
Roy Hibbert's hands would be better served by hanging on to the basketball.

The Miami Heat look to become the first team since the mid-1980’s Boston Celtics to earn four straight trips to the NBA Finals when they take the court tonight in Indianapolis. I’ve struggled with this series throughout, I can’t lie about that for a second and I feel just as ‘off’ with tonight’s game as well.

On the surface, this looks like a no-brainer. The Pacers are worried about officiating, whether LeBron James is talking smack and when Roy Hibbert is actually going to show up consistently. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat just keep on trucking. Even without Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen in game four, the Heat still trailed the Pacers by just two points (40-38) in points in the paint.

LeBron and Dwyane Wade continue to dominate the action when it matters and Chirs Bosh, Ray Allen and others keep on showing up when the team needs them to do so.

Can the Pacers stay alive tonight and force a game six back in Miami? I’m not sure I even know at this point!

Miami (-2) at Indiana, Heat Lead Series 3-1 – One of the major talking points coming out of game four was the disparity at the foul line. The Heat went 30 for 34 from the charity stripe while Indiana was just 11 for 17. Pacers’ star Paul George basically said the Heat were getting all the calls and he’s absolutely right about that.

George
Paul George needs to worry less about the officiating and focus more on scoring and defending.

The more aggressive team in this series has gotten the calls and that was Miami on Monday night. Perhaps George has forgotten that in game one his Pacers had an even more discrepant free throw advantage in what was their only win of the series to this point. More to the point of this discussion is that home teams in the playoffs are going to get more calls than visiting teams will.

It’s been that way for some time and we also know that stars are going to get calls more often than the non-stars will. We may not like and may not want to accept it but it’s a fact of life in the National Basketball Association.

As I said prior to game four, Pacers’ Coach Frank Vogel needs to get Luis Scola on the floor more often. By the time Scola played any meaningful minutes Monday night the outcome was basically in hand. Still, Scola pumped in 12 points in just 14 minutes of action and he needs to get his shot with this team’s back against the wall.

Roy Hibbert’s struggles aren’t just centered on the fact he didn’t score again because he also continues to have butter fingers. Game in and game out Hibbert violates nearly every fundamental of big man play by  bringing the ball down where smaller guys can get it. That, plus he can’t seem to get a grip on the ball either.

It’s time for Scola to get his shot because the Heat have struggled to find a guy who can handle him but Scola can’t do things by himself. Paul George, David West and Lance Stephenson all need to have their best games tonight if the Pacers are to extend the series. The problem is that my faith in this team is shattered.

Take the Heat to cover and advance. I also like the over tonight too.

 

Keep an eye on… O/U is 184… The total has gone OVER in six of Miami’s last seven games… Indiana is 1-4 against the spread in its last five games at home… Miami is 2-4 against the spread in its last six games when playing on the road against Indiana… The total has gone OVER in four  of Indiana’s last five games when playing Miami.