2014 NBA Finals Game 4 Betting: Heat must show some Fire

heat-spurs-game-7Few people predicted what would happen in Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals. The Miami Heat came out completely flat while allowing the San Antonio Spurs to shoot a Finals-record 86.7% in the first quarter. The Spurs would go on to rack up 71 first-half points on 75.8% shooting and cruise to a 111-92 victory on Miami’s home floor. Even head coach Greg Popovich admitted afterward, “I don’t think we’ll ever shoot 76 percent in a half again.”

Kawhi Leonard served as the catalyst behind this record, quickly scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting to open the game. This helped San Antonio race out to a 25-12 lead and they never really looked back. The only real scare was when Miami cut the deficit down to seven on a Norris Cole layup in the third quarter. However, the Spurs answered and gave themselves a comfortable cushion.

Now, last year’s runner-up has a 2-1 lead with Game 4 to be played in Miami once again. Even if San Antonio loses, they still have home court advantage. Assuming they win, the series could be all but over. This being said, it’s critical that Miami find a way to win as we head towards Game 4 tomorrow night.

Turn up the Intensity

The Spurs are too good a team for Miami to lose another game on their home floor and still hope to prevail in the series. To keep this from happening and even up the series, the Heat need to come out with more fire on Thursday night. Additionally, they have to realize the importance of every possession. James hit upon this during the post-game press conference with the following:

lebron-jamesIt was a cumulative of everything. Some possessions we played extremely well and they hit shots. Some possessions we weren’t quite there and they hit shots as well. One thing about this team, if you make a mistake they’re going to make you pay. They came in with a desperation we just didn’t match. Just because it’s our fourth Finals [appearance] doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t guarantee you a win. It doesn’t guarantee you that you will be more urgent or less urgent than the next team.

Ray Allen was more blunt and critical of the team’s effort than LeBron. “It sucks. It really sucks,” Allen said. “They beat us and we didn’t bring urgency tonight.”

Chris Bosh also added, “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can come down from 25 down no matter when the time is against a team like that.”

Keys for Miami to keep the Series within Reach

The obvious key for the Heat is to come out and be more aggressive while trying to throw San Antonio’s rhythm off early. In Game 3, Miami trotted out like they were the varsity team scrimmaging the JV squad. It’s hard to win a mid-April regular season game against a bottom feeder with this type of attitude – let alone an NBA Finals game against the league’s top team.

Another huge factor will be the play of Mario Chalmers. He scored just two points and was 0-of-5 from the field in the 111-92 defeat. For the series, Chalmers is averaging just 3.3 PPG. As bad as he’s played, at least the point guard is aware of it. “I think everybody else is doing their job and I’m being that guy that’s not helping out,” said Chalmers. “I don’t want to be that guy.”

One more key for the Heat will be taking Leonard out of the game early. As mentioned before, he started Game 3 on a 5-for-5 shooting tear, which included two three-pointers. So LeBron and Co. will have to do a better job of making the young player miss early so his confidence isn’t as high.

Assuming you’re interested in 2014 NBA Finals Game 4 betting, you can expect a much more competitive contest this time around. However, Miami needs to make some major adjustments for this to be a reality, though.

2014 NBA Finals Betting – Spurs vs Heat Game 1

heat-spurs-nba-finalsThe San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are set to kick off Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals tonight (Thursday) at 9:00 pm ET. This is no doubt a hotly anticipated series because Miami barely eked out a championship when these teams met in last year’s Finals. So is LeBron James and Co. going to win their third straight title or will San Antonio’s “Big 3” capture another championship as their careers wind down?

This is a hard question to answer because of all the variables in play. For starters, San Antonio has grabbed the home court advantage, which means Game 1 will be taking place in South Texas rather than South Beach this time around. And the NBA Finals format has been switched from the old 2-3-2 version to the 2-2-1-1-1 format. Provided there is a Game 7 again, it would be at the AT&T Center, rather than Miami’s American Airlines Arena.

The Spurs having home court obviously gives them an edge. But what about some of the other factors that we might see play out tonight. Anybody who’s betting on Game 1 between San Antonio and Miami will want to pay attention to the following:

Upside for Miami: Dwyane Wade is Healthier

dwayne-wadeWade did pretty well in the Finals last year, averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 47.6%. But he was held back at times, especially on defense due to his bad knees. This prompted coach Eric Spoelstra to rest the 32-year-old more during the regular season as he averaged 32.9 MPG. The plan seems to have worked because Wade is averaging 18.7 PPG on 51.9% shooting in the playoffs, and he’s looking better on defense. We wouldn’t be surprised if he takes an even bigger step up in the Finals.

Upside for San Antonio: Manu Ginobili is playing Better

Ginobili had a forgettable performance in the 2013 Playoffs as he averaged 11.5 PPG on 39.9% shooting – hitting just 30.2% of his three-point attempts. And nowhere were his struggles more apparent than in the Finals, where he committed 8 turnovers during Game 6 when San Antonio had Miami on the ropes. Will he melt down in the 2014 NBA Finals? If the first three rounds are any indication, no. Ginobili is averaging 14.3 PPG and shooting 38.9% from beyond the arc, making it much more likely that he’ll show up.

Downside for San Antonio: Tony Parker may not be 100%

tony-parkerCory Joseph played the entire second half of San Antonio’s Game 6 victory over Oklahoma City since Tony Parker’s ankle was hurting. Parker has already told the media that he’ll be suiting up for Game 1. The big question now is if five days of rest will be enough for tonight’s contest. Assuming Parker struggles with his ankle, the Spurs lose one big advantage they have in the series at point guard.

Downside for Miami: Their Defense hasn’t been as dominating

The 2013 Playoffs saw Miami hold teams to 102.9 points per 100 possessions and 43.6% shooting. This year’s version of the Heat has allowed 107.7 points per 100 possessions and 46.2% shooting. So are we to believe that the Heat’s defense is worse this season? It’s hard to tell whether they’re playing weaker defense as a unit or they were just lackadaisical against lesser competition. Miami rolled through the Eastern Conference, blowing out Charlotte and Brooklyn, then getting a little resistance from Indiana. That said, we may not truly know what the situation is with Miami until after a few games in the San Antonio series.

2014 NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Prediction

The Spurs are coming into the Finals with a vengeance. As Tim Duncan says, they wanted to play the Heat this year. Well, Duncan’s wish has been granted and with home court to boot. Given that San Antonio is a motivated squad and they’re out for revenge, we like them to come out strong in the first game and win by a score of 102 – 95. But even if they do win Game 1 like we expect, the entire series should be a close battle.

Tim Duncan wanted the Miami Heat Again, now he has Them

tim-duncan-nba-finalsIt’s another year in the NBA, but not much has changed at the top. For the second straight year, the Miami Heat dispatched the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, taking the series in six games. The San Antonio Spurs also needed just six games to beat the more-youthful Oklahoma City Thunder. So now, for the second straight year, Miami and San Antonio will meet in the NBA Finals.

Last year’s series was a seesaw affair, with the Heat finally pulling away 95-88 on their home floor in Game 7. The Spurs had their adversaries on the ropes at one point in Game 6. However, LeBron James and Ray Allen sparked a heroic comeback that saw the series shift back to Miami for the deciding final contest.

Duncan can’t wait to play Miami

Given how close the series was, it’s little surprise that Tim Duncan relishes the opportunity to play the Heat again for the NBA title. “We’re happy that it’s the Heat,” said Duncan. “We’ll be ready for them. We’ve got some experience, obviously, from last year against them. And we’ll go back and look at some film. And we’ve got that bad taste in our mouths still. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to take it this time.”

Duncan has won four titles with the Spurs, taking the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 1999, 2003, ’05 and ’07. He and the Spurs came agonizingly close to another one in 2013 as they led Game 6 by a score of 94-89 with just 28 seconds left. However, an Allen 3-pointer turned the tide of the game and, as mentioned before, Miami won the final two contests. “We were ready last year and we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Duncan said.

Renewed Fire

tim-duncan-nba-finals-1Losing the Finals really seems to have motivated the aging Spurs this season as they topped the NBA with a 62-20 record, despite playing in the all-around-tougher Western Conference. The Heat, meanwhile, cruised to the second seed in the East after finishing 54-28. That said, San Antonio will have home court advantage in this year’s 2-2-1-1-1 format.

Aside from having home court advantage in the 2014 NBA Finals – a change from last season – San Antonio also comes into the series with more experience. Sure, you can’t get more experienced than the Spurs’ “Big Three,” Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. However, important role players like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter and Corey Joseph were all making their first trip to the Finals a year ago. Plus, there’s new help in Boris Diaw, who scored 26 points against the Thunder in Game 6, and sharpshooter Marco Belinelli.

“Last year was many guys’ first time to the Finals,” Green explained. “We’re lucky enough to go back. There is still a lot of work to be done, and we won’t be satisfied until we accomplish our goal. And that’s to be the last team standing.”

Stepping up

It seems that the San Antonio role players could have a much bigger impact this time around. This is especially the case with regard to Joseph, who started the entire second half of San Antonio’s 112-107 (OT) Game 6 victory over Oklahoma City. Parker sat out after his ankle began bothering him and he couldn’t cut on it very well. So head coach Greg Popovich chose to rest his star guard, rather than risk further injury. Parker, who averaged 14 PPG and 5.5 APG on the season, had just eight points, two rebounds and no assists in his limited Game 6 outing.

The one thing that Parker and older Spurs players have on their side is five days rest. The 2014 NBA Finals doesn’t start until 8pm ET on Thursday. This also favors those who are interested in 2014 NBA Finals betting because they still have plenty of time to research the matchups and make an informed decision. Furthermore, there’ll also be a number of NBA Finals prop bets and live wagering opportunities for bettors to enjoy.