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.

NBA Power Rankings for Feb. 7th, 2013

tony-parkerOver the past couple of years, NBA analysts and fans have questioned if the San Antonio Spurs are too old to compete with the league’s best teams any longer. And the Spurs have responded to this questioning by winning 11 straight games and grabbing the NBA’s best record. This being said, it was a no-brainer to rank San Antonio number one in our latest power rankings. As for how everybody else fared, take a look below.

1. San Antonio Spurs (39-11) – While the Spurs haven’t played any truly elite teams over the last two weeks, they did grab quality victories over Golden State, Atlanta (road) and Memphis during their 11-game win streak. A primary catalyst behind San Antonio’s recent surge is improved play by C Tiago Splitter (10.8 PPG, 5.8 PG) and SG Danny Green (10.0 PPG, 41.9% 3P). Overall, seven Spurs are averaging at least 9.7 PPG.

2. Miami Heat (32-14) – LeBron James and company have had a fair amount of success since mid-January. They’ve won 8 out of the last 10 games, including road victories over the Lakers, Nets and Warriors. James (26.8 PPG) has stepped up his scoring production in February and is averaging 30.3 PPG this month. Unfortunately, Ray Allen (10.7 PPG) has seen his scoring dip down to 3.3 PPG during the same span.

kevin-durant3. Oklahoma City (37-11) – The Thunder have stumbled from first to number three since our last power rankings. They’ve won 5 out of the last 9 games, which is pretty mediocre for this team. Furthermore, Oklahoma City lost to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers just three games ago. One big culprit for the average play of late involves the Thunder playing 12 out of their last 17 contests on the road.

4. New York Knicks (31-16) – After going through some rough patches in December and January, the Knicks appear to be back on track. They’ve won five out of the past six games and are chasing Miami for the East’s best record. Amar’e Stoudemire seems to be working his way back into the New York lineup nicely following a long injury recovery. He’s averaging 14.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG, which is far better than what he was doing a couple weeks ago.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (35-16) – Once the story of the season after winning 17 straight games, Los Angeles has struggled worse than any other NBA team lately. They’ve lost 7 out of the last 10 contests, which includes dropping games to bad teams like Phoenix, Toronto and Washington. Much like Oklahoma City, the Clippers appear to be victims of a rough road schedule, which includes playing 11 out of the last 14 games away. Things won’t get any easier since four out of the next five contests will be played on the road.

danilo-gallineri6. Denver Nuggets (31-18) – The Nuggets are definitely the league’s hottest team right now. They have been victorious in the last 13 out of 15 games and are quickly climbing the Western Conference ladder. This has truly been a team effort since nine Denver players are scoring 8.0 PPG or more. Danilo Gallinari (17.1 PPG) has really been doing well as of late since he’s averaged 21.8 PPG over the past five games. Rumor has it that Denver may be trying to further bolster their lineup by adding Kevin Garnett.

7. Indiana Pacers (31-19) – Indiana went through a three-game losing streak towards the end of January. But they’ve since rebounded by winning five straight contests, including wins over Chicago, Atlanta and Miami. Paul George (17.6 PPG) is really backing up his first All-Star selection by averaging 20.6 PPG during his team’s five-game undefeated run. David West is also pitching in 17.2 PPG and some crucial late-game baskets.

joakim-noah8. Chicago Bulls (29-19) – The Bulls have done a decent job of battling through some tough road games recently and are still looking good in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Derrick Rose still isn’t back from injury, so SF Luol Deng (17.2 PPG) continues to lead this club. C Joakim Noah has also been a force since he’s averaging 12.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG and 2.1 BPG. Assuming Rose can come back soon and get in shape for the playoffs, he’ll definitely have a nice supporting cast.

9. Brooklyn Nets (29-20) – While the Nets are certainly a strong playoff-bound club this year, they’ve yet to truly crack that elite team barrier. Don’t tell this to PF Reggie Evans though, who downplayed how good King James was and questioned the Heat’s lockout-shortened season title. LeBron responded scoring 24 points, grabbing 9 boards and dishing out 7 assists. Looks like Brooklyn still has a ways to go before they can back up Evans’ boasting.

10. Memphis Grizzlies (30-18) – We don’t expect Memphis to be ranked this high throughout the remainder of the season. After all, they just traded away their leading score, Rudy Gay, in a move that many people called ‘panicky.’ They did get Tayshaun Prince (10.3 PPG) in the deal; however, he’s unlikely to match the production that Gay put out. It certainly doesn’t help matters that Zach Randolph’s scoring has dropped by over a point in the last month.

NBA Power Rankings for Nov. 5th, 2012

Now that we’re a few games into the 2012-2013 NBA regular season, we finally get a chance to see how some teams perform when it really counts. Okay, so maybe these first few games don’t count for everything, but they’re a lot more relevant than preseason results. Interestingly enough, some of our previous top teams have stumbled out of the gates – L.A. we’re looking at you – while others have been surprisingly good. Let’s discuss all of this and more in our latest NBA power rankings.

1. Miami Heat (2-1) – A loss on the road to the Knicks hasn’t wavered our confidence in Miami’s ability to repeat this season. Ray Allen has made a nice transition from the Celtics to Heat since he’s averaging 15.7 PPG while shooting 56.3% from the three-point line. Lebron James is his usual self too by posting statlines of 23 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 6.7 APG.

2. San Antonio Spurs (3-0) – Are the Spurs too old to remain an NBA power? They certainly haven’t shown any signs of dropping off so far with an undefeated early season record. SF Kawhi Leonard is injecting some nice youth into San Antonio by averaging 12.7 PPG and 3.3 SPG.

3. L.A. Clippers (2-1) – For the first time in his career, SG Jamal Crawford spent time working on his shooting this summer. And it’s definitely paid off so far since he’s averaging 25.7 PPG and shooting 53.5% from the field. If this keeps up, maybe Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be taking a back seat to Crawford’s talents.

4. Oklahoma City (1-2) – How much are the Thunder going to miss James Harden? We guess pretty badly after beginning the season 1-2. However, Oklahoma City certainly has plenty of firepower with Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin and Russell Westbrook all averaging over 20 PPG to open the season.

5. Indiana Pacers (2-1) – Even without a true star player, Indiana looks to be a force in the East thanks to a well-rounded lineup that includes PF David West (19 PPG, 8.7 RPG), SF Paul George (14 PPG, 13 RPG) and C Roy Hibbert (11 PPG, 4 BPG).

6. L.A. Lakers (1-3) – It’s hard to rank the Lakers too far down the list because of an extremely talented lineup that includes Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and Steve Nash. But the team hasn’t exactly had a dream start after dropping three out of their first four games.

7. Houston Rockets (2-1) – The Rockets leap into our rankings on the strength of good guard play from James Harden and Jeremy Lin. Harden is playing like an early MVP candidate since he’s scoring 35.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 6.3 APG. As for Lin, he’s averaging 15.7 PPG and 7.3 APG.

8. New York Knicks (2-0) – New York has five starters averaging double digit-scoring so far in Steve Novak, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony. The latter is putting up his usually-stellar 28.5 PPG and has the Knicks off to a very hot start.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (1-1) – Not much has changed for Memphis after starting out on the road at L.A. and Golden State. We can’t really fault the Grizzlies too badly after losing to the Clippers so it may be some time before we get an accurate gauge on whether they’ll move up or down our rankings.

10. Milwaukee Bucks (2-0) – The Bucks opened the year with a big win at Boston and also grabbed a home win against Cleveland. PG Brandon Jennings is playing excellent right now with 17 PPG and 13 APG while SG Monta Ellis (18.7 PPG) and SF Mike Dunleavy (18 PPG) are also off to good starts.

NBA Power Rankings for Oct. 29th, 2012

A week ago, we did a complete list of power rankings for all 32 NBA teams. Seeing as how the regular season doesn’t officially begin until tonight, we weren’t expecting the rankings to shift much – especially at the top. However, a major and surprising trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets blew this notion out of the water. That said, let’s discuss the trade and look at the top NBA teams heading into the 2012-2013 season.

1. Miami Heat – Nothing has changed here during the preseason since the Heat are pretty much the unanimous pick to repeat as NBA champions. The newest Miami pickup, Ray Allen, recently talked about how he doesn’t like the offseason divorce with the Celtics. However, winning a title in Miami should erase most of his negative feelings about leaving Boston.

2. L.A. Lakers – A week ago, we had the Lakers tabbed as the NBA’s third best team. After all, there haven’t been any regular season games yet to showcase the chemistry between Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and new teammates Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. However, we don’t really need to see it right now following the big Thunder trade.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder – After failing to come to terms on a contract extension with G James Harden, the Thunder sent him, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, two first round picks and a second round pick. For the future, this isn’t a bad trade when draft picks are considered and Martin should provide plenty of offensive punch. But there’ll be nobody replacing Harden’s perimeter defense contributions this year, and the Thunder are a worse team at the moment.

4. San Antonio Spurs – No major preseason trades to report from the Spurs. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since they have a strong core group in Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Unfortunately, the latter is dealing with some back problems that could hamper his production to open the season.

5. L.A. Clippers – The Clippers addressed their most pressing need of depth this summer after adding Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Matt Barnes. So far in the preseason, it looks like all four players could make solid contributions during the year.

6. Indiana Pacers – In the East, it’s basically the Miami Heat and then the rest. And for our money, the rest starts with the well-balanced Pacers who feature budding franchise center Roy Hibbert and smooth swingman Paul George.

7. Denver Nuggets – Many people wonder about Denver’s lack of a true superstar. But they added a very good player in Andre Iguodala and look poised to challenge for the West’s top spot with a number of solid role players in Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried.

8. Boston Celtics – Much of the Celtics hopes rest on how much better Rajon Rondo has gotten over the offseason. With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both another year older, Rondo will have to carry Boston more this year. Also, it will be interesting to see if Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa can fill the void left by Ray Allen at shooting guard.

9. Memphis Grizzlies – Nobody’s denying that the Grizzlies have talent with Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph providing plenty of offense and Marc Gasol and Tony Allen playing lockdown defense. But will this be enough to make a serious run at the Western Conference title? It might be if everything goes right for Memphis.

10. Atlanta Hawks – With Joe Johnson now departed to Brooklyn, nobody’s giving Atlanta much of a chance to win the Eastern Conference. And while we don’t see them as being any serious threat to the Heat, they could potentially make the Conference finals with the return of a healthy Al Horford. Josh Smith will need to step up in Johnson’s absence and stop taking so many ill-advised three’s too.