NBA Finals Betting Preview: #1 Miami Heat vs #2 San Antonio Spurs

2013 NBA Finals
#1 Miami Heat vs #2 San Antonio Spurs
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-3-2
Series Price: (odds courtesy of bookmaker) Heat -215 / Spurs +185
Game #1, Thursday, June 6, 2013, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
American Airlines Arena – Miami, Florida
Opening Line: Miami -5 1/2
Current Line: Miami -5
Opening Total: 188 1/2
Current Total: 188 1/2
Opening Money Line: Heat -300 / Spurs +250
Current Money Line: Heat -230 / Spurs +190

Heat Spurs NBA Playoff Series Preview
The heat take on the Spurs in the NBA Finals which start Thursday in Miami

With all due respect to the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies who had great seasons, the NBA and ABC have to be turning back flips that the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs earned trips to the NBA Finals. You have two teams loaded with superstars, two of the best coaches in the league, teams that have both won multiple championships since 1999, and two polarizing franchises that people either love to hate or love watching them play.

The Miami Heat had the best record in basketball with a 66-16 record. The Heat won the Southeast Division by 22 games over the Atlanta Hawks. Miami swept the #8 seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round with each win coming by double digits. The Heat then lost the first game  of their second round series against the #5 Chicago Bulls at home before winning 4 straight games. The depleted Bulls were playing without stars Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, and Kirk Hinrich.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat were taken to the full seven games by the #3 seeded Indiana Pacers. The Heat dispatched the gritty and tough Pacers 99-76 in game seven Monday night. Since February 1, the Heat are 49-8, including a 27 game winning streak that was the second longest in NBA history. Miami is playing in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, and the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in last year’s finals in five games.

San Antonio went 58-24 and won the Southwest Division by 2 games  over the Memphis Grizzlies.  The Spurs were the #2 seed in the Western Conference  2 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs swept the #7 LA Lakers in the first round. In the second round, the Spurs took care of a pesky #6 Golden State Warriors team in six game in the second round after the Warriors had upset the #3 Denver Nuggets in the first round.

The Spurs swept the #5 Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals to return to the Finals for the first time since 2007. The Grizzzlies advanced to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history after OKC guard Russell Westbrook was knocked out of the playoffs with a torn meniscus in the first round. The Grizzlies would upset the Thunder in 5 games. After a rout in game one, San Antonio would win 3 more hard fought games against the Grizzlies, including two overtime games. The Spurs would complete the sweep with an 93-86 win in Memorial Day in Memphis.   San Antonio returns to the Finals for the first time since 2007. The Spurs won 4 NBA titles between 1999 and 2007 and have never lost in the Finals before. San Antonio swept a Cleveland Cavaliers team in the 2007 Finals that was led by a young LeBron James.

Miami won both games this season  against San Antonio but take those results with a huge grain of salt. On November 29, San Antonio was on the last game of a six game road trip in Miami. Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Danny Green back to San Antonio to rest them. The Spurs would later be fined $250,000 by the league for those actions. Miami would win 105-100. On March 31, Miami’s 27 game winning streak had just been snapped and Miami coach Eric Spoelstra sat LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with injuries. Miami would win 88-86 in San Antonio on a three pointer at the buzzer by Chris Bosh.

Miami is coached by Eric Spoelstra. The Heat are 54-43 ATS this season and the total is 48-46-2. Miami is outscoring teams 97-88 in the playoffs. Miami is shooting 47.2% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. Miami makes 76.4% of their free throws. The Heat average 37.4 rebounds per game and give up 39.6 Miami opponents are shooting 42.9% from the field and 32.5% from 3 point range. The Heat average  20.3 assists, 8.1 steals, 5.6 blocks, and 13.5 turnovers per game. Miami forces 16.6 turnovers per game.

In the playoffs, forward LeBron James is averaging 26.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He won his fourth MVP award. Guard Dwyane Wade is averaging a playoff career low 14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He is battling a bruised knee that won’t heal until the offseason. Forward/center Chris Bosh averages 12.3 points, 6.6 rebounds,  1.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. He sprained his ankle  in the Indiana series but struggled badly with Indiana’s big men David West and Roy Hibbert. Guard Ray Allen averages 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. Point guard Mario Chalmers averages 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1 steal per game.  The breakout star of the playoffs for Miami has been Norris Cole. The point guard is averaging 7.1 points a game. Forward Shane Battier didn’t play much in the Indiana series because the heat had to play bigger line-ups but he could be a key piece against the Spurs with his defense and timely shooting. Chris anderson is averaging 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Udonis Haslem averages 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds. Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis could also see some time in the rotation.

San Antonio is coached by Gregg Popovich. The Spurs are 49-45-2 ATS and the total is 43-51-2 this season. San Antonio is outscoring teams 102-92 in the playoffs. The Spurs are shooting 46.9% from the field and 36.2% from 3 point range. The Spurs make 76.1% from the free throw line. San Antonio averages 42.9 rebounds and give up 45.6 per game. Spurs’ opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 33.6% from 3 point range.The Spurs average 23.6 assists, 8.3 steals, 5.4 blocks, and 12 turnovers. San Antonio forces 14.2 turnovers per game.

In the playoffs, Tony Parker is averaging 23 points, 7.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He is probable with an Achilles’ injury. It is just bruised. Duncan is averaging 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Forward Kawhi Leonard is averaging 13 points, and 8 rebounds.  Manu Ginobli is averaging 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Guard Danny Green is averaging 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Gary Neal, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, and Cory Joseph make up the rest of the rotation.

San Antonio is 6-1 ATS in road games, and against teams with winning home records, 5-1 against teams with winning records, and overall, 4-1 after a straight up win, and in Finals games, 38-16-1 against Southeast teams, and 33-16-2 against Eastern Conference teams. The under is 20-5 in this series recently including 10-3 in Miami.

Miami is 4-0 ATS in Finals games, and on 2 days rest,  7-2 against Western Conference teams, 21-8 in Thursday games, 1-4 after a straight up win of 10 points or more, and 0-5 after a straight up win.

The biggest X factor in this series is the health of Wade and Bosh. Wade had a great game 7 against the Pacers but struggled for the rest of the series. He will have to be much better against the Spurs but his knee might prevent that from happening. Bosh should do better because even though Duncan and center Tiago Splitter are big, they aren’t nearly as physical as West and Hibbert. It isn’t clear if either team can stop the two leading scorers, Parker for the Spurs and James for the Heat. They could engage in an epic scoring duel along the lines of Bird and Magic or Jordan and Malone. Rust could be a factor in game one for the Spurs with a 9 day layoff. I think the Heat win in six games, but it could easily go seven.

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