It’s the final day of the NBA restart seed schedule — Friday, Aug. 14 — and there’s absolutely nothing for these teams to play for. It’s like a lamer version of Week 17 in the NFL. Let’s focus on a matchup we’ll see a lot over the next couple of weeks: Miami Heat versus Indiana Pacers.
Miami Heat (-121) vs. the Indiana Pacers
Miami and Indiana enter their final game of the bubble with the same record (44-28) and are playing each other as the 4- versus 5-seed matchup in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat have had their way with the Pacers all season: Miami is 3-0 against Indiana this year, and the last two victories were double-digit wins.
The biggest challenge of handicapping Heat-Pacers is figuring out how many minutes the starters are going to play. Judging by the box scores of Thursday’s games, most teams are getting their starters out of the game at the end of the first half.
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If we could guarantee that Miami and Indiana would both play their starters for the first half of Friday’s game, then we would HAMMER THE HEAT. One of my winning “best bets of the day” was the Heat beating the Pacers in the first half of their Aug. 10th game.
However, we cannot guarantee any minutes for starters and both teams are sitting a majority of their starters so depth will be even more crucial in this game.
This is where Miami has a clear edge. The Heat’s bench is outscoring the Pacers bench by an average of 46-40 over there three meetings this season. Miami’s bench is sixth in the NBA in points per game and Indiana’s is 22nd.
According to RealGM.com, Miami’s bench ranks 5th in free throw attempt per field goal attempt rate (aggressiveness to get to the charity stripe) and seventh in HOB (“hands on buckets” or the rate of which a player is involved in either the assist or the score in a bucket). Indiana ranks 20th in FT/FGA rate and 19th in HOB rate.
Most importantly, the Heat’s bench has been playing much better than Indiana’s in the bubble. Miami’s bench has been outscoring opponents 46-36 and has a 5-1-1 bench record while Indiana’s bench is being outscored 27.8-33.3 and has a 3-4 bench record in their last seven games.
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