NBA Game 7 Predictions
NBA Playoff Game 7 Preview & Betting Line Comparisons
By Dan Favale
Miami Heat (-6) vs. Charlotte Hornets (+6)
This is a pretty large spread for a Game 7, especially considering how close each of the last two games have ended. The Miami Heat have a decisive edge as the home team, but the Charlotte Hornets have given them problems, even in victory, every step of the way since Game 2. And Dwyane Wade is starting to play like vintage Dwyane Wade, thriving amid adversity and high stakes situations, as he carves up Charlotte’s blend of dual big lineups and spacey groupings.
If he gets off to a hot start, the Hornets will have to adjust hard, opening up any one of Miami’s increasing number of shooters. That won’t bode well for their defense, regardless of which player combinations they throw out, as there’s really no successfully adapting to the Heat when Wade is firing on all cylinders, including jump shots.
Still, Hornets coach Steve Clifford deserves credit for his mid-series tweaks. He adopted a style that successfully combated the Heat after his team dropped two straight games in ugly fashion, and Charlotte was a bounce or two away from winning Game 6 and advancing to the second round.
That, along with the give and take nature of this entire seven game set, is enough to justify the belief that this win or go home matchup will be close. The Hornets may not win—in fact, they probably won’t—but the Heat will feel this game no matter the outcome.
The Pick: Hornets (+6)
Toronto Raptors (-5.5) vs. Indiana Pacers (+5.5)
Should the Toronto Raptors be favored to win this Game 7 even though the Indiana Pacers, by and large, have been the better team all series? Absolutely. They are the superior squad on paper, and the home team usually figures out a way to scrap and claw their way toward Game 7 victories.
Should the Raptors be favored to beat the Pacers by more than five points in this crucial tilt, though? Absolutely not.
You cannot reasonably lay money down on this Raptors line, even if you think they’re going to win. Neither DeMar DeRozan nor Kyle Lowry has proved that he can or will step up when Toronto needs him most. Both of them have been missing in action on offense for just about the entire series, leaving the Raptors wholly dependent on their defense to get by. And their defense isn’t good enough to get them by.
One of them—perhaps both of them—will need to explode for the Raptors to grind out any sort of decisive win. Well that, or the Pacers’ offense will need to slow to a painful halt. And while that’s not out of the question—just ask Paul George about his supporting cast’s reliability—the Pacers’ defense is, in fact, good enough to get them through.
All of which puts the Raptors in a pretty cut and dry situation: Get the offensive attack together, or fail to get out of the first round again, just as they have for the last three years and every postseason appearance they’ve made since 2002. And given how narrow their margin for error subsequently is, the Pacers are the pick here, even if they’re the rightful underdogs.
The Pick: Pacers (+5.5)
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