Wed, Mar 31, 2021
By Jim Vassallo (Veri.bet Writer)
Spots four through eight in the Eastern Conference of the NBA are separated by just 1.5 games. Add the ninth spot and it's just 2.5 games separating all of those teams in the standings.
Two of those teams, the Miami Heat (23-24, 11-12 away) and Indiana Pacers (21-24, 8-12 home), hit the hardwood on Wednesday, March 31, at 7 PM ET to battle for the #8 seed.
The Pacers have won the first two games of this three-game regular-season series by scores of 137-110 and 109-106.
Even though it's just one game, it could go a long way in helping either of these teams in securing the eighth and final playoff spot down the road in the Eastern Conference.
Miami comes into tonight's game fresh off a 98-88 win over the New York Knicks. It was a much-needed victory for Miami, which had lost six in a row.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 27 points, Bam Adebayo scored 20 points, Duncan Robinson added 20, and Tyler Herro finished with 18.
"It's a great feeling (to win after) anytime you drop any in a row, let alone six in a row," Robinson said. "We were struggling, so it's certainly nice to just get this one."
Miami scored 12 of the game's final 22 points to seal the victory over New York.
"As a young guy, it's amazing for me to watch," Herro said of Butler. "I think at any point throughout the game we all know he can turn it on."
The Indiana Pacers suffered a 132-124 loss to the Washington Wizards the last time on the hardwood, snapping a brief, two-game win streak.
Domantas Sabonis had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers. Malcolm Brogdon added 26 points. It was just their second loss in their last six games.
"Not good enough," Brogdon said of the team performance. "They played harder. They made more shots and got more stops."
The Wizards took the lead for good in the win over the Pacers with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer that made it 128-120 in favor of the Wizards with 44.8 seconds remaining in the game to seal the victory.
"He shot it well from the arc today, and obviously everywhere, and passed it well," Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said of Westbrook. "It was one of those games tonight that didn't go our way in a number of ways."
The injury list includes the following players:
The Heat are favored at -2 on the road against the Pacers Wednesday night. Miami is 4-6 in its last 10, while Indiana is 5-5. This should be a much closer contest tonight than it was in the series opener back. Expect a similar result to game two. Bettors should roll with Miami and the -2 spread as the Heat hold on to the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference standings for one more night.