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.

Danny Green sets Impressive NBA Finals Record

danny-green-nba-finalsIf there’s one guy who’s become a star through the 2013 NBA Finals, it’s San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green. The third-year player has been a thorn in the Miami Heat’s side after hitting 25 out of 38 three-pointers. The 25 three-pointers are actually a Finals record, and this easily beats the previous mark of 22 three’s. What’s amazing is that we’re not even done yet!

San Antonio, which holds a 3-2 series lead, will play Game 6 in Miami tonight. This means that Green will get at least one more crack at further extending his record. And if the Heat are able to win at home, where they’re favored, Green is going to have two more games to improve upon the 25 three-pointers. Whether he has one or two games, it’s almost a given that the North Carolina product will extend his record.

So what’s turned Danny Green into the breakout star that he’s been in the 2013 NBA Finals? Well to hear Green say it, it’s all about the Spurs’ “Big 3” in Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. “I’ve been getting lucky. I was moving around a lot. Our transition helps us, our pace.” Green said, “Tony penetrating and Manu penetrating, making the defense collapse is the reason why I’ve been getting open. Luckily, a couple have dropped for me.”

danny-green-nba-finals-1A couple of 3’s is the under-exaggeration of the 2013 NBA season since Green has been phenomenal throughout this series. He’s been so good that when he made 6-of-10 three-pointers in Game 5, it actually dropped his shooting percentage to 65.8%. Most players would be happy to nail even half of these attempts in the Finals.

Parker spoke about his teammate’s outstanding performance by saying, “I can’t believe he’s still open at this moment of this series.” He added, “They are still trapping me and doubling Timmy, and Danny is wide open. He’s shooting the ball well – if you are going to leave Danny wide open, he’s going to make threes.”

You can bet that the Heat will be doing everything they can to solve the problem that Green has created. So far, the San Antonio ball movement keeps allowing him to get open looks. Now the question for tonight’s game is whether the Heat will dedicate extra attention towards taking him out of the game, or keep trapping Parker and doubling Duncan.

As Parker said, “You can’t stop everything.” And he’s right since Miami won’t be able to shut down everything that the Spurs do. However, you also have to consider that San Antonio can’t rely on 60.0% shooting for the next one or two games.

Keeping this thought in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if Green and his teammates can keep up their torrid shooting. If so, there’s a very good chance that San Antonio wins in Miami and closes out this series. But if they can’t continue shooting red-hot, they could be in trouble since Miami is great at forcing turnovers. We’ll get to see the action unfold tonight at 9:00pm EST on ABC.

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 February 17th, 2013

lebron-jamesThe San Antonio Spurs continue to roll, despite being in the midst of a 9-game road trip. They’ve won 14 out of the last 15 games and are firmly entrenched atop the NBA standings. However, the defending champion Miami Heat have also played well as of late and are starting to take control of the Eastern Conference. So which team is number one in this week’s power rankings? Here’s the answer…

1. San Antonio Spurs (42-11) – The Spurs have truly broken away from the pack over the past five weeks. Once sitting behind the Clippers and Thunder in the West, San Antonio has now bolted out to a 2.5-game lead over Oklahoma City for the league’s best record. Second year player Kawhi Leonard (10.5 PPG) is really doing well during this stretch and he’s scoring 16.6 PPG over the past five games. This has supplemented the already-high and expected production from Tony Parker (20.8 PPG), Tim Duncan (17.2 PPG) and Manu Ginobili (12.3 PPG).

2. Miami Heat (36-14) – Miami cemented their second place spot after winning their past seven games. In fact, we were really debating about whether to put the Heat above San Antonio – especially after a 10-point victory at Oklahoma City. That makes Miami winners of seven straight games and places them four games ahead of second place New York in the East. LeBron James has really taken the team on his back lately and is averaging 31.5 PPG in February.

russell-westbrook3. Oklahoma City Thunder (39-14) – The Thunder have had a rough week after losing to the Heat by 10 and the Utah Jazz by 15. However, they’re still in second place in the West and are getting excellent play out of stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Kevin Martin is also in line for a Sixth Man of the Year award since he’s scoring 15.0 PPG and shooting 43.6% from 3-point territory.

4. L.A. Clippers (39-17) – Up until a couple of weeks ago, L.A. had lost 8 out of their past 11 games. However, they’ve since won four straight games and move up a spot from our last power rankings. Three of these victories have come on the road – with one being a 14-point win against the Knicks. The Clippers have a very well-rounded team since six players are averaging in double figures with Blake Griffin (18.5 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (16.8 PPG) leading the way.

5. Indiana Pacers (33-21) – After winning 6 out of their last 8 games and beating Miami, Chicago and Atlanta during this stretch, Indiana moves up a couple of spots. Now this team gets a week to rest up before taking on New York in a big Eastern Conference showdown. Based on how they’ve been playing over the past two months, we really like the Pacers chances of moving up to the East’s number two seed soon.

amare-stoudemire6. New York Knicks (32-18) – New York opened this year with the league’s best record and held the top spot for weeks. However, they’ve stumbled somewhat as the season has dragged on and have lost three out of the past four games. What’s particularly disheartening about these losses is that two of them came to Eastern Conference bottom-feeders Toronto and Washington. Perhaps the Knicks will get back on the winning track as their team chemistry gets more used to having Amar’e Stoudemire (13.6 PPG) in the lineup.

7. Denver Nuggets (33-18) – Denver had been a fast-climbing team in our rankings after winning nine straight games in late January/early February. However, they hit a big roadblock by losing their last three contests. If there’s any silver lining with the losses to Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn, all of the contests have come on the road. Plus Ty Lawson (15.8 PPG) has really stepped up his game by averaging 22.0 PPG throughout February.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-18) – After the Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay, the common reaction was that Memphis would fade away and have trouble earning a playoff spot in the West. However, they’re hanging onto the West’s fourth seed and have grabbed three straight victories. It’ll be interesting to see how the Grizzlies replace Gay’s 17.2 PPG as the season rolls along.

brook-lopez9. Brooklyn Nets (31-22) – Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where Brooklyn fits among the league’s top teams. One week they’re beating Indiana and Denver, the next week they’re losing to Washington and the L.A. Lakers. In any case, it’s all combined to leave the Nets sitting at fourth place in the East. Brook Lopez continues to lead this team with 19.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 2.17 BPG.

10. Chicago Bulls (30-22) – Chicago drops two spots in our rankings after losing five out of their past seven games. Now all of these losses have come to good teams, but they’re still losses nonetheless. For this reason, we thought of putting Golden State (30-22) at the number 10 spot. However, we like how complete of a team the Bulls are with Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Joakim Noah and Richard Hamilton all in this lineup.