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.

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.

Miami Favored on 2013 NBA Finals Game 7 Betting Line

heat-spurs-game-7Anybody who watched Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals was given a real treat. San Antonio went on a big 12-0 run in the third quarter and had a 12-point lead over the Miami Heat to start the fourth. But showing the heart of a champion, Miami battled back thanks to plenty of big plays by their “Big 3.”

LeBron James hits some shots at the beginning of the quarter, Dwayne Wade made some clutch buckets, and Chris Bosh had a couple of big defensive plays. Ray Allen also stepped up and made a huge three to tie the game near the end of regulation. Overtime was also close, but the Heat were able to hang onto their three-point lead when Bosh blocked a Danny Green 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Taking all of this into account, people are pretty excited about Game 7 of the NBA Finals, which starts tonight (June 20th) at 9:00pm EST. Assuming you’re looking to get some action on this contest, here’s how GTBets.eu has the betting line:

San Antonio   (-110)
Miami  -5.5  (-110)

heat-spurs-game-7-1With the Heat being at home for Game 7, they’ve got to cover 5.5 points in this matchup. With how well the Spurs played in Miami on Tuesday, the fact that they’re being spotted 5.5 points is an attractive proposition. Many people didn’t expect this series to go to seven games, but San Antonio has played well enough to push the defending champions to the brink.

Of course, the Heat will no doubt get an emotional boost from their home crowd as they hope to repeat. Assuming you’re looking for some advice on which side to bet on in the deciding Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, here’s a look at what both teams need to do to win.

San Antonio Spurs

The biggest problem for the Spurs throughout this series has been their inability to put together a complete 48 minutes. One game they shoot 60% from the field, but turn the ball over 18 times. The next, they cut the turnovers down to 13, but shoot 27.8% from the 3-point line.

San Antonio’s big advantage coming into this series was their ability to execute. Obviously this is easier said than done while facing the Heat’s defensive length and speed. But for the Spurs to win such a huge contest on the road, they’ll have to shoot well and exercise good ball control.

heat-spurs-game-7-2Another point that this team needs to address is cutting Manu Ginobili’s minutes if he doesn’t produce in the early going. He was great in Game 5, but fell totally flat on Tuesday after scoring just 9 points and committing 8 turnovers in 35 minutes. When Ginobili played in Game 6, San Antonio was outscored by 21 points. That said, Greg Popovich needs to be willing to pull him right away if he starts playing badly.

One more thing worth mentioning about the Spurs is that they need some more shooting magic from Gary Neal and Danny Green. After torching the nets earlier in the series, this pair collectively shot 3-for-14 from the field and 2-for-8 from behind the arc. If they can get going, along with Tony Parker, who shot 6-for-23 in Game 6, San Antonio has an excellent chance to win.

Miami Heat

The Heat made multiple big plays down the stretch to push last game into overtime and pull out the win. However, there were several times when it looked as if they’d surrender the NBA Championship on their home floor. That said, Miami needs to focus on slowing San Antonio’s big runs and keeping the game manageable.

heat-spurs-game-7-3Much of this starts with keeping the Spurs out of the paint because they outscored Miami 60-36 inside. Sure Tim Duncan is probably going to get his production. However, the Heat have to do a better job of keeping him off the offensive glass. Kawhi Leonard also got a few easy buckets inside as well.

Once again, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade need to give Miami a little more in the scoring department. Both players were integral parts of the Heat victory, but combined for just 11-of-27 shooting and 24 points. Lucky for them, point guard Mario Chalmers had a strong shooting performance after knocking down 7-of-11 shots and hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers.

Game 7 starts at 9:00pm ET on ABC tonight. So make sure to place your bets by then and get ready for another entertaining battle between these two clubs.

Spurs favored over Heat in 2013 NBA Finals Game 3 Betting Line

tim-duncanThe 2013 NBA Finals began with an interesting turn when the underdog San Antonio Spurs won the first game in a close contest. But then the Miami Heat stormed back and won Game 2 by 19 points, despite just 27 combined points from LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Now, with the series tied at 1-1, the Heat and Spurs play a pivotal Game 3 tonight (June 11th) at 9:00pm ET.

San Antonio is a slight favorite on the Game 3 betting line because they’ve got home court advantage. Here’s a look at how GTBets.eu has the line:

Miami    (-110)
San Antonio  -2  (-110)

As you can see, the Spurs are favored by two points on the Game 3 spread. Since Miami was favored coming into this series, many Heat backers will like this line. However, Chris Bosh and Wade have been terribly inconsistent over the last several playoff games. Wade doesn’t appear to be playing at full strength, which should definitely benefit San Antonio over the remainder of this series.

nba-finals-2013The Spurs aren’t without their difficulties either since Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard all shot poorly last game. Parker was 5-for-14, Leonard was 4-for-12, Manu Ginobili shot 2-for-6, and Duncan shot just 3-for-13, as they all struggled with Miami’s athleticism in Game 2. Shooting guard Danny Green was pretty hot after making all six of his shots and scoring 17 points. But it wasn’t nearly enough to keep San Antonio in the contest.

So far, this has been a defensive series with both teams doing a good job of pressuring each other. These clubs will be looking to get more going on offense tonight, and below, you can see their keys to victory.

Keys to Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals

San Antonio Spurs – One thing that would greatly aid San Antonio is if Tim Duncan can get back on track. He’s got a size and strength advantage against both Bosh and Chris Anderson inside. And he should exploit this mismatch, rather than settle for mid-range jumpers. There have been open lanes for Duncan to get inside thanks to Miami’s efforts to trap Parker; he has to take advantage of these opportunities to free other players up.

1-nba-finals-2013Of course, Parker is going to need to shoot better as well. He creates the biggest mismatch problem for the Heat because of his quickness and ability to penetrate the lane. But if he can’t take advantage of Mario Chalmers and split Miami’s traps, the Spurs are in big trouble.

Ginobili has definitely been a disappointment throughout the playoffs. These problems surfaced big-time last game as he not only shot 2-of-6, but also committed three turnovers as well. He is San Antonio’s top bench player, and if he can’t get going, the team will rely too much on Duncan and Parker.

Overall, the Spurs have to control the ball better, which was a huge problem in Game 2. They committed 17 turnovers and executed poorly on offense. Execution is supposed to be a strength for San Antonio, and they have to get back to this.

Miami Heat – Coming off a big win last game, Miami will need to do more of the things that made them successful: getting to the basket, kicking the ball out to open shooters, creating lots of defensive pressure, and scoring points off of turnovers. Of course, this will be easier said than done against a motivated Spurs team on the road.

2-nba-finals-2013It can’t be stressed enough how the Heat need to get more from Wade and Bosh. With Wade, he may not be capable of stepping up his play due to a knee ailment. But he’s got to at least make sound decisions and hit open shots when the opportunity arises.

Bosh is a different story because he’s supposed to provide Miami with an inside presence. He finally got his first double-double in the last 10 playoff games; but this has to be the norm, instead of a bonus.

If there’s anything that Miami can improve on as a team from Game 2, it’s defensive rebounding and guarding Danny Green. They allowed 15 offensive rebounds last game and definitely need to block out the Spurs better. As for Green, he’s 9-of-14 from the three-point line – a sure sign that Miami has to get a hand in his face more often.

Remember that Game 3 starts tonight at 9:00pm ET and will be shown on ABC. So if you’re going to bet, make sure to do it before then.

2013 NBA Finals Preview and Betting Line

heat-spurs-nba-finalsThe 2013 NBA Finals are set with the Miami Heat looking to defend their title against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami made their way to the Finals after winning an easy Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, in an otherwise grueling series. The Spurs have been resting for well over a week after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies.

Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals starts tonight, and most experts are picking Miami to top an aging San Antonio team. This is especially the case when you consider how the Heat are opening at home. Here’s a quick look at the betting line provided by GTBets.eu:

San Antonio   (-110)  Over 188.5  (-110)
Miami Heat -5  (-110)  Under 188.5  (-110)

tony-parkerAs you can see, Miami is being spotted 5 points in this line. Of course, San Antonio is an experienced bunch and should not only make Game 1 close, but also play well throughout the series. Seeing as how this figures to be such an interesting matchup, let’s take a quick look at what both teams need to do to emerge victorious.

San Antonio Spurs’ Keys to Victory

1. Overcome the Heat’s Athleticism with Perfect Execution – When it comes to the key players in the series, Miami has a definite advantage in youth and athleticism. However, the Spurs are masters of offensive execution and move the ball better than any team in the league. They’ll need to continue this against the Heat and force them to play defense.

2. Shake off the Rust from the Layoff – San Antonio hasn’t played a basketball game since May 27th. That said, it’s easy to see them opening Game 1 with plenty of rust, which will hamper the perfect execution we just discussed. So the Spurs will really need to be focused mentally in the early going to avoid ugly turnovers and bad shots.

3. Exploit the Obvious Mismatch Tony Parker offers – While Mario Chalmers is a solid point guard, he’s up against the league’s top PG in Tony Parker. San Antonio will rely heavily on the Frenchman to give them a huge boost in this series.

kawhi-leonard4. Kawhi Leonard must slow LeBron James down – Two years ago, the Spurs traded popular PG George Hill for a draft pick that they used on Kawhi Leonard. The idea was that the athletic Leonard could eventually guard superstars like LeBron. Now it’s time to see if perception meets reality as Leonard hopes to at least slow James down for a couple games.

5. Manu Ginobili needs to find Something Extra – For years, Manu Ginobili has provided the Spurs with lots of offensive firepower. However, he’s definitely slowed down this season, which has been evident from the first two playoff rounds. But if San Antonio is to seriously contend with the Heat, they’re going to need everything they can get out of the Argentinean.

Miami Heat’s Keys to Victory

Dwyane Wade JaVale McGee1. Overwhelm the Spurs with Athleticism – It’s no secret that Miami has the more athletic team from an all-around perspective. And they need to use this athleticism to create turnovers and force San Antonio into bad shots. Miami should definitely watch some footage from last year’s Western Conference Finals, when the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the Spurs.

2. Make This the Big 3 Again – LeBron James may be the best basketball player in the world; however, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are supposed to be pretty good themselves. Unfortunately, Wade and Bosh were very inconsistent against the Pacers – something which nearly cost them the series. These two need to combine with James to get the Big 3 back on track.

3. Ray Allen has to hit Shots – Wade and Bosh weren’t the only ones struggling against Indiana. Ray Allen has also had a tough time draining shots and, at times, couldn’t hit anything during the Pacers series. Luckily, the Spurs don’t defend the corners quite as well as Indiana, which could free Allen up for some open 3’s.

chris-anderson4. Defend the Rim – Miami features solid shot blockers in Bosh (1.36 BPG) and Chris “Birdman” Anderson (1.27 BPG). However, this is about all the Heat have to defend the rim against a San Antonio squad that’ll feature Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter inside. Plus Parker and Ginobili will be cutting into the lane frequently and scoring at the hoop. So the Heat are going to need a team effort to protect the rim.

5. Contain Tony Parker – Miami doesn’t really figure to shut down either Duncan or Parker. But they can’t allow Parker to get comfortable and control the game tempo. A huge battle here will be the Heat’s pressure defense against Parker’s incredible ability to split traps.

Both clubs have their strong points and will be looking to impose these during this year’s NBA Finals. Miami is more talented, but San Antonio is fresher and features two future Hall-of-Famers in Parker and Duncan. That said, this should definitely be an entertaining series!

NBA Power Rankings for March 14th, 2013

dwayne-wadeAt the beginning of February, the top of the NBA looked pretty competitive with several different teams seeming like they could be the league’s best. However, the Miami Heat have easily proven themselves to be number one since then after going on a 20-game winning streak.

This 20-game run is tied for the third best all-time behind the 2007-’08 Houston Rockets (22 games) and the 1971-’72 L.A. Lakers. The latter is arguably the greatest NBA team of all-time, while the ’08 Rockets were ousted in the first round of the NBA playoffs. We suspect that this year’s Miami Heat are more in line with the ’72 Lakers team, which featured Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Pat Riley and Gail Goodrich.

1. Miami Heat (49-14) – A few weeks ago, there was more of a debate between whether the San Antonio Spurs or Heat were the NBA’s beat team. However, as we discussed before, there’s definitely no debate now since the Heat are not only on a historical win streak, but they’ve wrestled the league’s top record away from the Spurs. Interestingly enough, LeBron James’ scoring (26.1 PPG) has dipped to 24.1 PPG over the last 10 contests while Dwayne Wade (21.8 PPG) has poured in 25.0 PPG during the same stretch.

kawhi-leonard2. San Antonio Spurs (49-16) – The Spurs aren’t on the same torrid streak they were on in January. In fact, they’ve been pretty mediocre after going 5-4 lately and losing their last game to the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, San Antonio also beat Oklahoma City by 12 during this stretch and remain in the second spot in our power rankings. Kawhi Leonard continues to make himself a bigger part of this team after scoring 14.5 PPG over the last 10 games. He’s also leading the club with 1.8 SPG and averaging 5.4 RPG.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (48-17) – Oklahoma City has done pretty well in March after going 6-2 this month. Road losses to Denver and San Antonio are the only blemishes during a stretch that also includes victories over the Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, Celtics and Jazz. Russell Westbrook seems to be asserting his role in the offense a little more lately after raising his season-long average of 23.2 PPG to 24.7 PPG over the last 10 games. Unfortunately, the rest of the team doesn’t seem to be scoring as much, but the wins keep coming nonetheless.

4. Memphis Grizzlies (44-19) – How is this even possible? The Grizzlies trade away Rudy Gay – their leading scorer – and win 14 out of 15 games. Ironically, the only team that’s beaten them is during this stretch is the Miami Heat, which is the only club that’s been hotter too. Memphis has played good defense all year and has really stepped things up over the past few weeks. Of course, you have to play strong defense when your leading scorer is only averaging 15.8 PPG (Zach Randolph).

5. L.A. Clippers (45-21) – Los Angeles has provided lots of highlight-reel dunks lately, including DeAndre Jordan’s posterizing of Brandon Knight. deandre-jordanHowever, the insane dunks haven’t really led to more victories in March, and the Clippers are just 3-3 in the past six games. They’ve also dropped home games to the Grizzlies and Thunder during this stretch, which makes it hard to rank them any higher. The schedule does get slightly easier over the next two weeks though.

6. Indiana Pacers (40-24) – Indiana is still holding onto the Eastern Conference’s second seed, despite a challenge from the Knicks. This is a team that does a good job of beating who they’re supposed to – although they’ve had some difficulties with strong teams. They have lost recent games to the Clippers, Celtics and Heat over the past couple weeks. The rest of March looks pretty easy for the Pacers though, and we expect them to increase their lead over New York.

7. Denver Nuggets (44-22) – Ty Lawson is definitely taking the reigns of this team as he’s averaging 21.0 PPG over the past 10 contests. This is up ty-lawsonfrom Lawson’s season average of 17.0 PPG and has really given Denver a boost. Of course, it also helps that Danilo Gallinari (16.4 PPG), Andre Iguodala (12.9 PPG), Kenneth Faried (11.8 PPG), Corey Brewer (11.7 PPG) and Wilson Chandler (11.4 PPG) are scoring in double figures too. There are also three other players who are scoring at least 8.3 PPG or more, giving the Nuggets a very good bench.

8. Brooklyn Nets (38-27) – We don’t particularly think that the Nets have done great lately. But they’ve done well enough to surpass some of the other struggling Eastern Conference playoff teams like New York and Chicago. After losing four out of the past five contests, Brooklyn has rebounded to win four out of the last five games. The next three contests are very winnable too, and the Nets could certainly use some W’s because they’ll be heading out on an eight-game road trip on March 18th.

9. New York Knicks (38-24) – The Knicks have been fading over the past two months and things haven’t gotten much better lately. They lost three out of the past four games and don’t perform well against playoff teams on the road. They were beaten at Denver last night by 23 points, and were dismantled at Golden State by 29 the game before. Carmelo Anthony is really suffering these days since his season average of 27.5 PPG has dipped to 22.1 PPG over the last 10 games.

10. Golden State Warrior (37-29) – Previously this year’s Cinderella story, Golden State had an awful month in February. They lost six straight games at one point and lost 10 out of 13 games from February 5th to March 2nd. Amazingly, the Warriors are still in the thick of the Western Conference race after all this, and they’ve won four out of the last six games. We don’t see the Warriors gaining home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but they could lock down the fifth seed with some strong play.