Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 7:33 PM
You could feel the pull of history gripping tight during Game Four of the Miami-Indiana series this past Sunday in a game most of you probably watched on TV. The Heat were truly on the brink of disaster. Not only were they down 2-1 in the series, but they had fallen behind early in the least inspiring way possible. Nobody was making any shots. Dwyane Wade was down in the dumps. The end of an era that never even happened was at hand!
Then…LeBron James ignited to have one of the greatest playoff games anyone’s ever played. Wade found his shot, and kept finding it repeatedly as his return to form helped inspire a strong second half surge. Instead of imploding before our very eyes…probably leading to the firing of head coach Erik Spoelstra and the potential dismantling of a roster that doesn’t seem well built for playoff rigors…the Heat were back in command of the series.
Miami had knotted things up at two games apiece, in a matchup where they have home court advantage. The Pacers now must win a home game AND a road game if they want to advance to the Eastern finals. Crisis averted. For now.
Let’s run through some numbers and talk some more about the championship hopes for the Heat…
MIAMI vs. INDIANA
Game Five Vegas Line: Miami by 7, total of 180
Series tied 2-2
The Heat were favored by 8.5 and 7 in the first two home games, so the market isn’t losing its heads about Miami’s potential moving forward. They’re the superior team, but not so dramatically that you should just pencil in easy wins every game. Miami did win by 8 and 9 in their two victories…which isn’t much clearance for a spread like this!
Vegas oddsmakers are kind of chasing their tail on the Over/Unders in this series. The actual games have landed on 181, 153, 169, and 194. That’s all over the place in a way that has Vegas scratching its head as soon as they think they have something figured out.
Given that Miami is a betting favorite in this series, and would be the betting favorite with home court advantage over whoever they’d face in the Eastern Finals…the Heat are still in position to make a run at their first league title with this regime. From one brink to another? We’re less optimistic at the moment than the market is.
GAME FOUR SUMMARY
MIAMI 101, INDIANA 93
Field Goal Pct: Miami 48%, Indiana 42%
Three-Pointers: Miami 5/12, Indiana 7/22
Free Throws: Miami 20/28, Indiana 20/24
Rebounds: Miami 47, Indiana 38
Turnovers: Miami 15, Indiana 15
Vegas Line: Miami by 1.5, total of 178
The big edges were in shooting and rebounding. But, what’s most telling is how those categories compare to recent results in this series. Remember that 48% is HUGE in the East. Miami has now registered at 41%, 35%, 37%, and 48% in their four games. They made a tremendous leap forward right when they needed to thanks to James and Wade, and then a few late jumpers from Udonis Haslem.
In terms of rebounding, Miami went from -10 and -16 in the last two games to +9. They gave themselves a few extra opportunities…and kept Indiana from getting second chance points. Indiana’s not a great shooting team, but they make up for that with hustle on the offensive boards. Miami neutralized that.
For one day, this is great news for Miami and their fans. The problem is…those key statistical turnarounds, plus a historical day as a combo for James and Wade only got them an eight-point win in a game they had to sweat in the fourth quarter. What’s going to happen when those guys fall back to earth? What’s going to happen if the Heat can’t maintain that rebounding intensity? What if Wade’s knee flares up again and he gets impatient when his shots stop falling?
Miami is the most likely name to be pulled out of the Eastern hat right now…but it’s closer to being a “name in a hat” competition than the market would have you believe. Indiana is better when nobody’s giving them a chance anyway. Things could definitely get very interesting Tuesday Night.
JIM HURLEY is working closely with his sources to find out a variety of things. From the Indiana perspective…what kind of defensive adjustments they’ll make to Miami’s pick-and-roll adjustments that freed up the stars more often. From the Miami perspective…the knee situation for Wade, and the fatigue impact on two superstars who are carrying way too much of a load than is normally healthy for a contender.
His final decision on the side and/or total will be posted here at the website Tuesday afternoon. You can purchase it with your credit card here at the website or by calling the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Because there’s only one basketball game Tuesday, we have a chance to tie up a loose end in Major League Baseball. This past Saturday we ran Wins Minus Home Games Played for the National League to help you evaluate the Senior Circuit over the first Interleague Weekend. Let’s run those numbers today for the American League. Because of publication deadlines, results are through Sunday’s action.
AL EAST WINS MINUS HOME GAMES
Tampa Bay +4
NY Yankees -1
The Orioles are legit according to this stat, as their stellar start to the 2012 season hasn’t been padded by a friendly home schedule. Not only that, they’ve played a tough schedule within the sport’s toughest division! The big news in this group is that the Yankees actually drop down to the bottom of the division. They’ve had three extra home games within a group that’s almost split evenly in the home/road area. New York was one game over .500 after the Cincinnati series despite playing 22 home games and only 19 road games.
AL CENTRAL WINS MINUS HOME GAMES
Chicago White Sox +2
Kansas City -6
Here the White Sox move past the Indians into first place. Cleveland’s played 23 home games and only 18 road games. That matches their 23-18 won-lost record. A friendly early schedule may be creating some illusions about the Tribe. The White Sox were right at .500 after sweeping the Cubs despite playing four more road games than home games. Will Detroit ever get rolling? They’ve played five more home games than road games, but have been outscored for the season. Things are even worse for the Tigers so far than you may have realized!
AL WEST WINS MINUS HOME GAMES
LA Angels -3
No surprise with Texas sitting at the top…but Seattle is a stunner! Did you know that the Mariners have played only 15 home games this year compared to 28 road games?! Unbelievable! How can a team be given that big a burden. Heck one of those home games was in Tokyo too. Seattle isn’t as bad as you had been thinking…and their road sweep of Colorado is more understandable in this light. The Mariners have been dealing with an unpublicized burden. Oakland is also a team to keep on your radar. They’re playing .500 ball for the year despite four additional road games. Much of the American League is tightly packed so far…with projected doormats like Seattle, Oakland, Cleveland (and Baltimore) measuring up surprisingly well to projected powers like New York, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Be sure you’re betting based on today’s reality rather than past perceptions.
That wraps up the Tuesday edition of the NOTEBOOK. We hope you’re with us EVERY DAY so you know what’s REALLY happening in the world of sports. If you’re ready to make big money through the MLB season and the rest of the NBA playoffs, link up with WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!