Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers – Tuesday, January 8
No one can predict the entirety of the season before it starts, and few NBA experts could have imagined that this game would become as attractive as it now is. Indiana looked like an unholy mess at the very beginning of its season, stumbling out of the gate with a losing record after two weeks and inspiring very little confidence about its ability to regroup.
Indiana did not have star player Danny Granger in its lineup due to injury, and Granger still won't rejoin the Pacers until February at the earliest. You would think that in a game with Granger on the sidelines, the defending world champions should be able to have their way with Indiana.
However, the Heat have looked mediocre over the past week, losing to two of Indiana's Central Division competitors, Detroit and Milwaukee, on consecutive nights. The Heat have not been a good road team over the past week, squeezing out a two-point overtime win in Orlando on Dec. 31 to avoid a three-game losing skid.
Moreover, Miami took on a not-very-good Dallas team this past Wednesday night and – at home – needed overtime to outlast the Mavericks. The Heat are in the midst of a rut. Indiana will treat this game as a playoff game, showcasing maximum intensity on every possession. Miami will not match Indiana's energy, and that's why an underdog such as the Pacers can take this game.
Pick Indiana here – it's a good spot for the Pacers.