Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat Matchup Preview
The final day of the regular season at the NBA bubble in Orlando is upon us, and the basketball gods have graced us with a preview of a series in the first round. The Indiana Pacers (44-28) will take on the Miami Heat (44-28) before going toe to toe with them in the first round of the playoffs. The Heat currently sit in the 4th seed in the East while the Pacers are the 5th seed. Whoever wins this game will get the 4th seed while the loser will get the 5th. While the seeding doesn’t ultimately matter because there is no home-court advantage at the bubble, both teams would still like to finish the season strong and gain an edge on their opponent heading into the playoffs. The Heat are coming off of a one-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, despite a 30-point effort from Tyler Herro. The Pacers are coming off a 108-104 win over the Houston Rockets, even though they were without their leading scorer in T.J. Warren. However, the Rockets were also without Russell Westbrook in that game, who is expected to miss the playoffs’ first few games. This is a game that I could see both teams rest their starters, but considering it is a preview of their upcoming series, I could also see both teams wanting to feel their opponent and play starters ahead of the first round.
Time: 4:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Pacers Starting 5
The Pacers are 5-2 in the seven games they have played in the NBA bubble. Their two losses have come at the hands of the red-hot Phoenix Suns and their opponent in this game, the Miami Heat. The Pacers lost their first meeting with the Heat by a score of 114-92. The Pacers’ offense was simply not gelling in that game, as their leading scorer was Victor Oladipo with only 14 points. If the Pacers want to defeat the Heat and claim the 4th seed in the East, they are going to need to play better offensively. T.J. Warren, who has been averaging over 30+ points per game in the bubble, only provided 12 points in their loss to the Heat. The Pacers will rely on him and others to provide offense for the team if they want to capture the W. Meanwhile, the Pacers’ All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis has missed the entirety of the NBA restart thus far with a foot injury. His timetable to return is still unknown, but the Pacers have stated that he could return for the postseason. While it is unlikely that he will play in this game and the beginning of the playoffs, he could certainly come in handy for Indiana when facing the Heat. Bam Adebayo is a beast in the pick and roll, and having Sabonis on the floor would help out the Pacers defensively. For now, they will have to rely on Myles Turner to hold down the paint.
Heat Starting 5
The Heat have had an up-and-down time at the NBA restart. They are 3-4 in the seeding games in Orlando, most recently losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have been playing without Rookie of the Year candidate Kendrick Nunn, who left the bubble earlier in the restart for personal reasons. He is expected to be back in time to help the team in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Miami has been going with veteran point guard Goran Dragic, who has been with the Heat for six seasons now. Dragic has been averaging 16.2 points per game and is still a serviceable player. He poured in 16 in the team’s loss to the Thunder, while Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro provided 19 points and 30 points. Jimmy Butler, the team’s veteran star, only recorded seven points against the Thunder. Although he only played 16 minutes that game, the Heat expect him to produce at a higher level than that on a night-to-night basis. He will certainly need to show up against the Pacers in the playoffs and may want to get some extra reps against them in this game. It will be quite interesting to see how both teams approach this game. While neither team wants to have any injuries occur to their players, the game is a perfect opportunity to try and gain a slight mental edge in the series. Whichever team comes out on top in this game will have some extra confidence headed into their matchup in the playoffs.
Pacers vs Heat Fantasy Basketball Angle
For the daily fantasy angle for this game, I decided to go with Miami rookie Tyler Herro. The man is coming off of a 30-point game against the Thunder and has been scoring well in other games during the restart. Considering that this is the last regular season game before the playoffs, I would not be shocked to see both teams play minimal minutes for their starters. With that in mind, Herro, who comes off the bench, could see a lot of playing time against Indiana. Herro is known as a 3pt shooter and has also been providing playmaking and rebounding for the Heat recently. He is a great young player who I think will be a star in this league one day. Herro should have a big day against the Pacers if the Heat provide him with quality minutes. If you have him on your fantasy team, start Tyler Herro in this one.
Pacers vs Heat Betting Odds
Pacers Odds: +102
Heat Odds: -120
The oddsmakers have favored the Miami Heat in this matchup, but not by a large margin. I believe that these two teams are relatively even, and quite frankly I’m not sure who will win this game. It will be interesting to see how this game plays out considering these two teams play each other in the first round of the playoffs. But if I had to pick who I think is going to win this game, I’d go with the Heat.
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