INDIANA PACERS (66-34)
at MIAMI HEAT (65-31)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference Finals
Game 6 - Miami leads series 3-2
Tip-off: Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -6.5, Total: 183
The Heat are eager to wrap up the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers in Game 6 in order to prevent a potential Game 7 on the road.
Miami was on the brink of advancing on Tuesday, but the club was unable to close out the series in Indiana. The Pacers gutted out a 93-90 victory despite being down big at times in the second half. The Heat are now 3-2 ATS in this series so far, and they are heading back home where they have dominated their opponent. Over the past three seasons, Miami is 12-2 SU (9-5 ATS) when hosting Indiana at American Airlines Arena. But over the past three seasons, the Pacers are 5-1 ATS when playing in a Game 6 in the playoffs. They are also 3-0 ATS this postseason when they are facing elimination in a series. They are, however, up against a Heat team that is 39-19 ATS when revenging a same-season loss against an opponent over the past three seasons. Miami has not yet played in a series that has gone to the sixth game in these playoffs, but the club will certainly match the intensity of the Pacers as the extra rest heading into the NBA Finals would be crucial for their banged-up bunch. The Heat are hopeful that PF Chris Andersen (thigh) will make a return in order to provide them with some much-needed rim protection.
With the Pacers’ season on the line Tuesday, SF Paul George (23.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.8 SPG this series) came through with the biggest performance of his career. George had 37 points (15-of-28 FG, 5-of-14 threes), six rebounds and six steals in 45 minutes for Indiana with, 21 of his points coming in the fourth quarter alone. Indiana will definitely try to ride his hot hand in Game 6 by feeding him early and often. PF David West (16.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.4 APG this series) was also tremendous in Game 5, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds in 41 minutes. West was excellent around the hoop and used his big body to muscle his way to the rim. West has been the steadiest presence in the starting lineup for the Pacers all series, and if he's not playing well in Game 6, his team has very little chance of advancing. After a scoreless Game 5, C Roy Hibbert (11.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG this series) really stepped his game up, finishing with 10 points, 13 rebounds and one block in 38 minutes of play. Hibbert was at his best when the Pacers weren’t forcing the issue and feeding him the ball. He plays his best in the flow of the game, and his play on the pick-and-roll was one of the reasons Indiana climbed its way back into the contest. SG Lance Stephenson (14.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.2 SPG this series) had a solid effort, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists. He set the tone defensively for Indiana with two steals, and continues to make life tough on Miami.
The Heat were very close to ending the series on Wednesday, and they pretty much were without SF LeBron James (22.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.2 SPG this series), who was in foul trouble early in the game and finished with just seven points (2-of-10 FG) in 24 minutes. Miami can’t afford to have James in foul trouble in Game 6, or it could be packing its bags for Indiana again. The good news for the Heat is that James has been money in home playoff games this year with 27.1 PPG (57% FG, 39% threes), 6.9 RPG and 4.6 SPG. SG Dwyane Wade (21.2 PPG, 4.4 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG this series) really stepped up his total game up with James out. Wade finished with 18 points (7-of-14 FG, 2-of-3 threes), eight rebounds and seven assists in 40 minutes of play. Wade’s shooting from the outside was quite the surprise for Miami, and he will look to carry his momentum into Game 6. PF Chris Bosh (14.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG this series) picked up where he left off in Game 4, shooting extremely confidently from the outside. Bosh finished with 20 points (9-of-21 FG), 10 rebounds, one block and two steals in 41 minutes. Miami will need to continue to get Bosh the ball to keep him in rhythm in Game 6. The club needs its big man to score, and over the past two games, he has done just that, averaging 22.5 PPG in 38.5 MPG. Miami also got an incredible performance on Wednesday out of SF Rashard Lewis (6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG this series), who was scoreless in the series until Wednesday. Lewis played 31 minutes and had 18 points (6-of-9 threes) and four rebounds, shooting extremely well from the outside when Miami needed it.