NBA fans may need to prepare themselves for a lot of Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat matchups over the next few weeks. The teams have identical 43-27 records, they will play each other in two of their final three regular season games and are currently slated to face each other in the first round of the playoffs as the fourth and fifth seeds in the Eastern Conference.
Today the Pacers and Heat get their first look at each other in the NBA’s Orlando bubble (8 p.m. ET Monday). Thanks to unreal play from forward TJ Warren, Indiana has had a solid 4-1 record in Orlando despite missing All-Star Domantas Sabonis. The Heat are only 2-3, with All-Star Jimmy Butler sitting out two of the losses.
Butler should be back today, which should make for some entertaining television given the recent history between these two teams (more on that later).
In this preview, USAbetting delves into the key points before finally offering a few educated Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat predictions and picks on the USA oddsmakers’ betting lines for this game.
Can TJ Warren Keep His Laser Focus Despite His Feud With Jimmy Butler?
The last meeting between the Pacers and Heat in January was a notable one. The Heat won comfortably, but the Pacers’ Warren and the Heat’s Butler got into a major argument. Warren ended up getting ejected in the third quarter after scoring a measly three points on 1-of-5 shooting, while Butler remained in the game for Miami’s dominant victory.
After the game, Butler used the words “soft” and “trash” to describe Warren. The Heat star claimed that Warren was “not even in my [expletive] league.” Butler’s words were very strong, but to be fair, Warren’s performance in that game was subpar.
Now, seven months later, Warren has arguably been the NBA’s best player in the bubble. Through five games, he’s averaged a league-leading 34.8 points per contest on 60.5 percent shooting from the field and 55.6 percent from three-point range. He entered the bubble with just three games this season of at least 32 points, but he has reached that number in four of his five last games, including a career-high 53 points against the Philadelphia 76ers. He has also kept his turnovers low, at just 1.2 per game.
Warren will undoubtedly have a very tough and competitive matchup against Butler, an elite defensive player, today. The Pacers forward needs to stay focused on his game and not let Butler’s words and efforts get to him.
Which Team Will Fight Harder for the Second Chances on Offensive Glass?
Neither the Pacers nor the Heat are known for being great on the glass. The Heat are pretty solid on the defensive boards, but the Pacers aren’t, and both squads rank in the bottom four of the NBA in offensive rebound percentage. They would prefer to get back on defense rather than send players aggressively to grab their teammates’ misses.
That said, offensive rebounding has been a key success indicator for both squads. Indiana has a 16-3 record when it grabs more than 24 percent of available rebounds, compared to a 27-24 record in all other games. The Heat have a 12-1 record when their offensive rebound percentage exceeds 25.5, but their record falls to 31-26 in the rest of their games. One key absence in this game is the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis, who leads the team with 12.4 rebounds per game.
I see both teams playing really hard defensively in this matchup, considering these teams have some history between each other. There should be plenty of misses to grab on both ends of the floor, but which team will show more willingness to stick around and fight for offensive rebounds?
Is Jae Crowder Going to Stay Hot From Three-Point Range?
32.6, 33.1 and 31.8. Those are Crowder’s three-point percentages in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, as well as the 2019-20 season prior to the bubble in Orlando. He has become a pretty dependable player in that regard. He won’t hesitate to shoot threes when he gets a clean catch-and-shoot look, and he can get hot, but he is ultimately a mediocre shooter.
In the bubble, though, Crowder has drained 17 of 29 shots from downtown in 144 total minutes of action. The accuracy (58.6 percent) is awesome, as is the volume of his attempts. He has been key in spacing the floor for the Heat’s slashers.
Miami needs Crowder to stay hot as it reintegrates Jimmy Butler into the lineup today. His reinsertion means the Heat have two non-shooters in the starting lineup again in Butler and Bam Adebayo. Spacing will be hard to come by if Crowder knocks down fewer than two shots from behind the arc and is hesitant to launch when he gets decent looks.
Add in the fact that Crowder’s versatility can be helpful defensively against a somewhat smaller Pacers squad at the moment. If he is not making those shots, though, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra may have no choice but to play him fewer minutes and miss out on that defense.
Our Preview’s Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds Conclusion
We saw in the Pacers’ only loss of the restart how the Suns’ Mikal Bridges was able to limit the Pacers’ Warren to just 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting. I think the Heat have a bunch of players who can take turns on Warren, such as Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Derrick Jones Jr. and Jae Crowder. The combination of those guys will keep Warren from another massive performance.
Considering that Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis is out, Indiana will end up needing big performances from Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon. Again, I think the Heat’s perimeter defense is good enough and motivated enough to limit the Pacers’ pair of guards that is used to having Sabonis ease their load. Here are USAbetting’s Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat predictions, betting odds and picks verdict:
- With most outlets online, Miami are four-point favorites on the spread. Going with the Heat -4pts @ -105 with Bovada is my recommended choice here.
- The absence of Sabonis and the likely quieter performance will put a lot of pressure on the Pacer guards, who just aren’t quite good enough to carry the load themselves. I can see Jimmy Butler being a bit rusty on offense for the Heat. Put your money on the under 221 total points being scored @ -110 with Bovada or Bookmaker.