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.

2014 NBA Futures: Lakers still gunning for Title Next Year

la-lakers-titleLast season, the Los Angeles Lakers featured a loaded roster that seemed perfectly capable of winning the NBA Championship. But even with a team of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol, the Lakers struggled to a seventh place Western Conference finish and were promptly swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

Now the Lakers enter the 2013-14 season having lost the battle to re-sign Howard and with Bryant rehabbing his torn Achilles tendon. They also cut World Peace, who later signed with the New York Knicks. That leaves LA with the aging core of Gasol, Nash and Bryant – not exactly the chic pick to win it all next year.

Taking this into account, some people thought that the Lakers would be best served by bringing Kobe along slowly, clearing up cap space and waiting until the summer of 2014, when they could sign a big-time star like Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James. By tanking next season, the Lakers could also pick up a high pick in the talent-laden 2014 NBA Draft.

la-lakers-title-1But none of this seems to be in the cards for LA as they’ll be entering October with the same mindset as always: compete for an NBA Championship.

Bryant is rehabbing with plans to be ready for the preseason, the team signed big man Chris Kaman to a one-year, $3.2 million deal, and Nash is also healing from his injuries in hopes of playing a full season. As if these aren’t signs that LA is preparing for another shot at the title, general manager Mitch Kupchak recently said so himself.

“You know that’s not our plan. Our plan was to bring back Dwight Howard and that would have sky-rocketed our payroll,” Kupchak said, when asked about mailing in next season. “That’s never a plan here with our fan base, to throw in the towel before the season begins. We always try to win, and that’s what we’re going to do this year.

“We have challenges. There’s no doubt. We don’t know when Kobe’s coming back, and we don’t know what level he’s going to come back at, although we’re optimistic. Everything’s good with Steve. Pau should be fine. We’ve added some athleticism. We’re hopefully putting ourselves in position where we can compete in every game.”

la-lakers-title-2No NBA general manager is going to flat-out admit that they hope to be non-competitive just to pick up a high lottery pick. But there’s sincerity in what Kupchak says because the Lakers fan base has come to expect winning, and throwing an entire season away just isn’t acceptable. Plus they have some stars left over in Bryant, Gasol and Nash, who would be pretty mad if they got another year older without another playoff run.

But do the Lakers truly have a shot at winning the NBA Championship? If you were making a 2014 NBA futures bet, odds are that you wouldn’t put your money on Kobe and company. But then again, with the chemistry disaster that we witnessed between Bryant, Howard and Gasol last year, perhaps playing without Howard can only improve the Lakers’ chances next season. And even if they have another difficult, injury-riddled season, well, at least Los Angeles still remains an attractive destination for big-name free agents next summer.

James, Anthony, John Wall, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Andrea Bargnani all hit the market in 2014. And while some of these players will re-sign with their team, it’s likely that LA could land at least one of them based on location and reputation alone.

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.

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.

Miami has Slight Edge in 2013 NBA Finals Game 5 Betting Line

2013-nba-finals-game5After going down 2-1 in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat battled back by winning 109-93 on the road in San Antonio. With the series now even, Miami is actually favored in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, despite playing one more contest in San Antonio. Here’s a look at how GTBets.eu has the betting line for tonight’s game, which airs at 8:00pm EST:

Miami  -1.5  (-110)
San Antonio  (-110)

As you can see, the favored Heat need to cover 1.5 points in this road game. Based on the way the 2013 Finals have gone so far, this will be no small task. However, it’s definitely worth noting that Miami’s “Big 3” finally got going as LeBron James (33 points), Dwayne Wade (32 points) and Chris Bosh (20 points) carried their team to victory in Game 4. This trio scored all but 24 of their team’s points in the win. Veteran guard Ray Allen also had a nice game off the bench as he scored 14 points.

San Antonio didn’t shoot too badly since Tim Duncan (20 points) and Tony Parker (15 points) combined for 50% shooting. Danny Green (10 points) and Gary Neal (13 points) were once again lights-out from the 3-point line as they combined for 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. However, it was the Spurs ball control, or lack thereof, that did them in.

Miami’s defensive pressure forced San Antonio into 18 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Heat committed just 9 turnovers, which was the biggest difference in the game. The Spurs have to do a better job of taking care of the ball tonight since this will be the final game played in San Antonio. That said, here are a few keys for both teams if they want to win Game 5.

Miami Heat’s Keys to Victory

2013-nba-finals-game5-1-2Dwayne Wade needs to keep it up – Going back to the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade has struggled mightily compared to his normal superhuman self. And his kryptonite appears to be a knee injury that’s been nagging him over the past few weeks. Some people thought maybe he should even be benched for the remainder of the Finals. However, all of this is forgotten after a 14-for-25 shooting performance that saw Wade pour in 32 points. If he keeps this up, Miami is a lock to repeat in 2013.

Keep swarming Tony Parker – Parker is what makes the Spurs offense click, but it was hard for him to get San Antonio into a rhythm with the Heat’s speed and length on defense. Many thought that Parker would create a huge mismatch with Mario Chalmers guarding him. However, Wade and LeBron have done an excellent job of helping trap the Frenchman and forcing the ball out of his hands. Wade was especially effective all over the floor after collecting six steals throughout Game 4.

Chris Bosh needs to remain a Force Inside – Another one of the Spurs’ advantages was negated when Bosh came through with a big game. He scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked two shots in a performance that overshadowed Duncan’s production. If he can continue giving Miami a big presence inside, it takes away just one more edge that San Antonio figures to have.

San Antonio Spurs’ Keys to Victory

2013-nba-finals-game5-1Taigo Splitter must do Something – Starting center Taigo Splitter has not exactly looked his best the past few games. But he reached a new low on Friday night after shooting 0-for-3, grabbing 3 rebounds, and committing 3 turnovers in 14 minutes of play. He was playing as if this were his first game in the NBA. Splitter must get back on track for San Antonio to have any chance.

Tony Parker needs to be Healthy – There were concerns over Parker’s hamstring injury going into Game 4, but everything seemed to be fine in the first half. However, Parker didn’t look quite as good in the second half and admitted that he stiffened up a bit. Much like Wade did last game, Parker needs to get some excellent pregame treatment and remain at full speed for San Antonio to win.

Manu Ginobili has to provide Support – San Antonio’s “Big 3” has become the “Big 2” after Ginobili’s disappearing act in the Finals. He’s been sporadic throughout the 2013 NBA Playoffs and has only provided glimpses of himself in certain games. Hopefully for the Spurs’ sake, he shows more of these glimpses in tonight’s contest because there’s no way San Antonio will win two straight series-deciding games in Miami.

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.