The Indiana Pacers remain alive in the Eastern Conference Finals, as they head into Game Six with the Miami Heat.
The No.1 seed staved off elimination with a win on Wednesday night, and will look to do the same on Friday. The series shifts back to Miami one final time, as the Heat return home with a 3-2 series lead.
Indiana had lost the previous three games by an average of over nine points per game, but picked up their second victory, as their No.1 player outperformed Miami’s top star. Paul George took over the contest, especially in the fourth quarter, where he scored 21 points.
George will likely need another big game, in order for the Pacers to extend the series. Not only was he the standout performer of Game Five, but LeBron James had his worst game of the playoffs. He scored just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. He was limited because of foul trouble, playing 24 minutes.
Even though James wasn’t very effective, the Heat still outscored the Pacers with him on the floor. At home, James isn’t likely to get in similar foul trouble. Miami took eight free throws in Game Five, compared to Indiana’s 22 free throws. If the four-time MVP is on the floor for most of the game, a subpar game from George could mean the end of Indiana’s season.
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James might stay out of foul trouble, but Lance Stephenson could help slow him down. The shooting guard has been the most talked about player of Game Five. He didn’t simply help limit James and Dwyane Wade, but he drew a lot of attention because of his on-court antics. He was caught blowing in James’ ear, and was fined for a flopping violation.
The Pacers have a difficult task, looking to steal a game in Miami. The Heat have been unbeatable at home, winning 10 in a row. Indiana, though, has had their share of success on the road, taking all three second-round games in Washington and beating the Hawks two out of three times in Atlanta.
Miami is an eight-point favorite at AmericanAirlines Arena. Seven of their 11 postseason wins have come by double digits, including all but one of their home victories. Most of the Pacers’ defeats have come in blowout fashion. Their playoff losses have come by an average of 11 points.
The contest isn’t expected to be a high-scoring affair. The over/under has been set at 182.5.
ESPN will broadcast the game at 8:30 p.m. ET. Viewers can watch a free live stream online at WatchESPN.
Prediction: Game Six is Miami’s to lose. The team has been dominant at home, and they should get the benefit of more calls. James has been terrific in the playoffs, and should bounce back to have a major impact in the potential series clincher. George couldn’t miss towards the end of Game Five, and that isn’t likely to repeat itself on Friday.
Predicted Score: Miami 103, Indiana 89