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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Last Tuesday Night, Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals reminded everyone that the Miami Heat have an extra gear they can turn on when needed in a big game. But, it also showed how mortal they are when not in that gear…and raised questions about whether or not Indiana can break through in this series if they can just avoid gagging in the final minutes of close games!

Miami did get the win, breaking serve to grab home court advantage over the final five games. But, they sure raised the possibility that Indiana could break them by South Beach and get right back into the series. Consider:

*Miami still isn’t covering the arc very well. Indiana is 17 of 38 on three-pointers through two games. That’s 44.7%, which is the same as 67% on two-point baskets. The way to score on Miami is to pass the ball around and wear down defenders. Indiana’s already doing that in a way that’s creating a lot of meaningful open looks.

*Miami only forced 22 turnovers in two games…11 per game on average. That’s not a sign of great defense. The Heat can’t win blowouts without getting a lot of stops. Low takeaway numbers help keep opponents within striking distance. Miami’s defense is at its best if opponents run up to them with reckless ball protection. Miami’s defense is vulnerable against well-run offenses.

*Miami has been outrebounded in both games, and is now -12 in rebounding differential in the series. If they grow cold from the field, that’s a BIG problem because they don’t attack the offensive glass. The Heat are not a classic “defense and rebounding” team by any means. That’s Indiana…which means Indiana still has a chance to be a factor.

*Miami trailed Game Two with five minutes to go, which isn’t the sign of a team “breathing fire” in a must-win situation. If the Heat get too cute, they’re going to lose a game they hadn’t planned on losing. Is their margin for error so great that they can afford to do that? This isn’t a typical Heat playoff series where they began with home court in their back pocket. They had to earn it.

Miami is the two-time defending league champion…and the three-time defending Eastern champs. They deserve the benefit of the doubt that comes from that kind of track record. But, that doesn’t mean that a squash is imminent from this point forward. Miami keeps winning because they find ways to be a little bit better than their opponents. One or two badly timed monkey wrenches (from their perspective) could make things very interesting indeed.

Will we see a monkey wrench in Saturday Night’s third game? The market doesn’t seem to think so.


Las Vegas Line: Miami by 7, total of 183

You may see Miami by only 6.5 by the time you read this, pending the status of Paul George. If he’s recovered from his concussion and cleared to play…Indiana money that’s been waiting will hit the board. Of course, if he’s not cleared to play, Miami will probably rise up to at least -8.  

JIM HURLEY has put the quiet NBA schedule to very good use the past few days. He’s worked with all the elements in his exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach to find the best side and total value spots in Indiana/Miami and San Antonio/Oklahoma City (that goes Sunday). The stat guys agree…the trend guys agree…the computer programmers agree…the market watchers agree…the money is there for the taking!

You can always purchase top plays right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call Saturday morning or early afternoon at 1-888-777-4155. Try to take care of business EARLY because of the day baseball. And, don’t forget to check on THE BELMONT. We’re now just a week away from the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Back with you tomorrow at this time to preview Game Three of San Antonio/Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. Monday brings Game Four from Miami. Then we’ll go day-by-day through the brackets with game day previews all week.  

It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty in the NBA Playoffs. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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