Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 5/27/13
While the Indiana Pacers wasted no time proving themselves to be a legitimate contender in their Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Miami Heat, one can’t help but wonder if LeBron James and company have started to bounce back and show why the NBA odds have been in their favor all along. As the series has shifted north to Indiana, the Heat have shown yet more reason why they lead league futures with 1-3 odds of winning the NBA championship. The Pacers, in contrast, have just 14-1 odds, while the Western Conference Finals-leading San Antonio Spurs sit second on the list with 5-2 odds of their own. Where this Eastern clash gets interesting, however, is with the Pacers’ roster. While few may have considered Indiana a genuine title threat at the beginning of the best-of-seven, there’s been no denying the fact that they’re one of just a few NBA teams capable of keeping pace with Miami. Much of that, of course, comes down to the combination of perimeter All-Star Paul George and Indiana big man Roy Hibbert anchoring down the middle. George has averaged 19.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this postseason, but it’s his length, athleticism and defensive potential to slow James that’s made him and the Pacers such a formidable force. Hibbert has posted 15.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in the playoffs, but the most significant numbers in his portfolio are still his physical specifications. At 7-foot-2 and near 290 pounds, he’s a traditional big man that can’t be forgotten. If the two provide the defensive insurance that Indiana has come to expect from them, then suddenly the dominant Heat look mortal. Considering they’ve been cast as locks to win the 2013 title since their championship parade last summer, that has to be considered a minor victory. Unfortunately for Pacers fans — not to mention the NBA betting community who’re hoping for a legendary upset — the Heat have started to show that perhaps no amount of Indiana talent can slow their progress. James, despite George and Hibbert, has averaged 29.3 points per game on .557 shooting from the field. The Pacers haven’t exactly been getting reliable production from their offense, either, at least not to the extent that fans hoped for after watching their strong showings in Games 1 and 2. In Game 3, George was limited to just 13 points, while the club combined for a sub-.400 shooting performance from the field. After the optimism that abounded throughout the betting world and blogosphere, it seems as though reality may be starting to set in for the Eastern Conference Finals. The question is whether we will see the Pacers go silently or whether they will surprise us all one last time. This post is presented by Bovada.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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