Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 6:52 PM
For the first time since the New York series, the Miami Heat finally looked like potential NBA champions Tuesday Night in their 115-83 victory over Indiana. It was a big result in a big game. THAT’S the team people were predicting would win the East easily once Derrick Rose went out for Chicago. THAT’S the team people were expecting to see back when everyone was promising multiple championships.
Even without Chris Bosh (generally regarded as the least crucial of the Heat’s “big three”), Miami is now clearly a threat to go the distance this year if:
*Role players keep stepping up to produce some offense, particularly from the three-point line. Shane Battier made an appearance in Game Five after mostly being irrelevant through the postseason. His three early treys helped Miami build a 19-8 lead right out of the gate. Miami ended the night going 9 of 16 on treys. If this team can regularly count on 7-10 treys per game, it’s going to be very hard to beat them.
*Role players stepping up to be a physical force. It isn’t pretty. And, it’s not what David Stern wants to see on the court when pitching the sport to car companies or Asian TV markets. But, champions are TOUGH. You didn’t hear Larry Bird of the Pacers whining about physical play. He knows what it takes. He thought his Pacers should have been MORE physical in a game that was already a WWE streetfight. You saw the dirty work being done…dirty work that wasn’t being done in the championship loss to Dallas last year. We’re not endorsing maulings, but we understand how the world works in the NBA. Defense and rebounding win championships. In the last two games, Miami has won rebounding 49-35 and 47-38, whole holding Indiana to 34% and 42% from the floor.
*LeBron James taking command when the game is on the line instead of shrinking from history when his team needs him most. It still remains to be seen if James can do this in the Eastern Finals or the League Finals. Nobody puts up statues for dominating second round performances. But, THIS is the LeBron James people expected to see…and, right now, he seems up to the task. You couldn’t say that during the darker days in this series.
*Dwyane Wade playing a supplemental but important scoring role. Possibly because of lingering knee problems, Wade was a huge drag on this team during their losses. There’s just no way this team is going the distance if Wade isn’t part of a dramatic one-two punch with James on fast break opportunities and out of the set offense.
The elements are finally all in play at the same time, and the concerns from Game Three in Indianapolis are gone for now. Maybe they’re gone for good. Maybe…we’ll be talking about the disappearance of role players…the temper of Wade…and/or the passiveness of LeBron James again in a couple of weeks. You just never know how the NBA playoffs are going to unfold!
MIAMI VS. INDIANA
Game Six Vegas Line: Miami by 3.5, total of 182
Miami leads 3-2
The line has moved up from prior outings at this site because the market believes Miami is ready to close things out. You’ll recall that Miami was -1.5 in both road games earlier. Two points is a big jump considering that a feisty home team is in a backs-to-the-wall situation. Vegas isn’t seeing many bounce-back bettors. That approach didn’t work so well in Game Five. Right now the money is on Miami as a favored conference champion in a closeout position.
The total has settled at 182 now, with the understanding that anything can happen with these teams. The last game was out of control and landed on 198, which came on the heels of a 194. We saw a 153 back in Game Two though…and two other Unders aside from that.
JIM HURLEY is working very closely with his sources right now for both of these propositions. When the numbers are this volatile…it’s information about team health and team attitudes that will rule the day. If Indiana really has lost heart, then this series is over and Miami will coast to a win. Will Miami try to run up the score as they did in Game Five….creating a good Over situation? Or, will they try to grind out the clock with a lead to get things over with before injuries might occur? Certain combinations of information could lead to all four possible team and total combinations. That’s why NETWORK’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach is so important in the playoffs!
GAME FIVE SUMMARY
MIAMI 115, INDIANA 83
Field Goal Pct: Indiana 34%, Miami 61%
Three-Pointers: Indiana 6/21, Miami 9/16
Free Throws: Indiana 17/23, Miami 20/29
Rebounds: Indiana 35, Miami 49
Turnovers: Indiana 9, Miami 13
Vegas Line: Miami by 7, total of 182
Stats don’t always mean much in a blowout. You know Miami won huge. They won the stats huge too. What’s most important to us is that the team finally started making some treys. That was a problem early on in this series.
Miami’s Treys vs. Indiana
0 for 6
1 for 16
4 for 20
5 for 12
9 for 16
That’s pretty amazing to go from 5 of 41 to 14 of 28 in a fingersnap! This is a fickle stat…and it’s a stat that could loom large over Miami’s title hopes. They’re mortal when the bombs aren’t falling. They’re extremely tough to beat (maybe IMPOSSIBLE to beat!) when a good percentage are going in.
If you assume the defense and rebounding are going to be there (with the potential to get even better in later rounds if Bosh is able to return), then trey production could be what hammers the final nails into everyone else’s coffins.
You can purchase JIM HURLEY’S game day selections right here at the website on Thursday. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy. Be sure to check out baseball too. There is one day game (Detroit at Cleveland) on the card, so read the home page to see if that’s part of the mix. Don’t miss a single winner!
As always, if you have any questions about NETWORK service, you can call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on the Belmont when you call. I’ll Have Another will be going for the Triple Crown very soon. JIM HURLEY will have a big race day extravaganza that can be included with any basketball, baseball, or combination package.
We’re closing in on a finalized Eastern Conference Finals matchup, and we’re already well prepared for the Oklahoma City-San Antonio showdown that starts Sunday in Alamo City (look for Charles Barkley on the Riverwalk!). Note that our NOTEBOOK preview will run in Sunday’s edition in plenty of time to get you ready for that evening tip-off.
We’ll be all over baseball and basketball the next few days right here on these pages. We appreciate all of you who have been reading our stat reports throughout the basketball postseason. The schedule will allow a transition to more baseball coverage very soon. Make sure you’re with us EVERY DAY so you know what’s really going on in the world of sports. And, don’t you dare make a move in the most important games on the board until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!