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Game 7 Journal
by Larry Ness - 06/03/2013
NBA Playoff Journal (Monday, June 3)
Miami won Game 5 on the strength of a huge third quarter (30-13) and Indiana returned the favor in Game 6, winning the third quarter 29-15, on its way to a 91-77 victory. That sets up tonight’s Game 7 in Miami (8:30 ET on TNT). History is on the side of the Heat, as since the NBA went to its current playoff format in 1984, home teams are 16-2 in Game 7s played in the conference or NBA finals. That said, going back to 1991, home teams in this situation are 11-2 SU but only 6-6-1 ATS. No team has won back-to-back games this series, so it seems to be Miami’s turn. Could it really be that simple?
The Pacers have proven conclusively that they have “closed the gap” with the Heat from last year. Indiana has beaten Miami FIVE of nine times this season but unless the Pacers can make it SIX of 10 tonight, it will all be for naught. Unlike in horseshoes and hand grenades, close DOESN’T count in the NBA playoffs! As for the Heat and particularly LBJ, tonight’s game is about “legacy.”The Miami Heat have made it clear that they want to go down as one of the great teams of all time and they know that to do that it means hanging banners (that’s plural). James knows that at the end of his career for him to be ranked among the all time greats he needs rings. You know the refrain, “Not one, not two, not three….”
Will LBJ have to carry the entire load tonight? He had better hope not. Allen, Battier and Cole have been just awful in this series, as the trio entered Game 6 shooting a combined 25.8%, including 24.3% on threes. Spoelstra has seemingly given up on Battier (he played four minutes in Game 6 and didn’t attempt a shot). Allen struggled again (2-8 for six points) but Cole at least did something (4-of-7 for 9 points). It’s become obvious LBJ and the Heat can’t count on these guys but the “Birdman” is back and remember, he’s 15-of-15 in the series, averaging 7.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 18.4 minutes, while giving the team much needed energy. Wade and Bosh HAVE to wake up. Wade’s had just 10 points in each of the last two games (6-of-19 shooting) and hasn’t reached 20 points in 12 straight games (12.8 PPG in that stretch). Bosh has totally disappeared the last three games, averaging 6.3 & 4.0 on 5-of-21 shooting (23.8%).
The Pacers have dominated the frontcourt ‘battle’ most games, as George is averaging 19.9-7.4-5.1 this postseason and West 16.0 & 7.7. Then we have Hibbert, who is averaging 22.8 & 10.8 this series, shooting 54.7%. However, Indiana’s guards (Hill and Stephenson) have been erratic, especially Stephenson (20 points on 9-of-15 shooting in Game 4 and 32 total points the other five games combined, on 11-of-43 shooting, or 25.6%). Augustin provides no offense off the bench in the backcourt and the Pacers have had little frontcourt help from reserves, either (a little from Hansbrough, but not much).
The home team has won and covered the last three games in this series but home teams are still a modest 6-4 SU and 4-6 ATS in the conference finals. The last two games of this series have gone way under but SEVEN of the first eight games in this round had gone over. Those following the Zig Zag theory are 6-2 ATS this round. Postseason to date numbers are as follows; home teams 48-29 (.623) and 36-41 ATS (minus-9.1 net games). There have been 37 overs, 38 unders and two pushes, while “Zig-Zaggers” are 33-30 or ‘dead-even!. The Heat are favored by seven points tonight and the total is 180 1/2.
My next journal will my NBA Finals preview, available at 1:00 ET Wednesday.