Let me say this right up front: I won’t always be doing the supposed “glamour” matchup in this year’s Thursday NBA on TNT preview stories. If I do, that means you are stuck with the same teams each week: Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, etc. This is, after all, a betting site, so if there’s a less attractive matchup that offers better value for bettors, I am going to lean that way in these previews.
With that said, I simply can’t go with this Thursday’s Denver-Golden State nightcap, although both are over .500, and the Warriors are tied atop the Pacific Division (entering Wednesday) with the Clippers despite getting next-to-nothing from hurt-again center Andrew Bogut. Nope, I can’t pass up the TNT opener between the Spurs and Heat, a potential Finals preview and San Antonio’s only visit to south Florida this season.
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The risk with doing the Spurs here is that they play on Wednesday night in Orlando (that’s a common back-to-back for teams visiting Florida). Usually the second of a back-to-back is a great time to bet on said team’s opponent. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out well for me in my first Heat preview of the season. Miami lost on Nov. 14 at the Clippers, and I had previewed their next night’s game in Denver before seeing that result (we try to get you these early as possible!). I took the Nuggets to cover but would have likely changed my tune had I seen Miami lose the night before – I’m not sure the Heat will lose two straight all season unless one of the Big 3 is out. At least there are less back-to-backs to worry about this year with no lockout-crammed schedule.
Spurs at Heat Betting Story Lines
The Heat, who lead the NBA in scoring at 104.8 points per game, have won four straight and haven’t scored less than 97 points in any of them (Heat have been held under 90 just twice all season). The past two victories were surprisingly close at home: 113-106 in overtime over the Bucks last Wednesday and 110-108 on Saturday against a very bad Cleveland team. In that one, the Heat were down seven with less than two minutes left against LeBron James’ former club, but Miami finished on a 9-0 run, capped by Ray Allen’s winning three-pointer with 18.2 seconds left. Still, how do the Heat give up 108 points to a Kyrie Irving-less Cavs club? LeBron is now 1-7 against Cleveland. He has scored at least 20 points in the first 13 games this season, a career-best. Shockingly, LeBron’s previous high was only seven.
The Spurs, prior to Wednesday’s game, also had won four straight and had scored at least 104 points in those. They destroyed the wretched Wizards in Washington on Monday night, 118-92. Six Spurs scored in double figures, with backup big man Tiago Splitter having a huge game with 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Spurs’ only road loss of the season was at the Clippers (who are 2-0 vs. San Antonio). They are 28-4 in their last 32 away games (entering Wednesday), matching the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls for the best such stretch in NBA history.
San Antonio has five players averaging double-figure points and is No. 5 in scoring and No. 1 in assists per game. Manu Ginobili started the season slow with a stiff back but has reached double-digit points in six of the past seven games.
There are three injured regulars who won’t play Thursday: San Antonio forwards Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson and Heat forward Shane Battier. Leonard (quadriceps tendinitis and left knee) and Battier (knee) both should return soon. Jackson, a valuable swingman off the bench, is out another month with a broken finger. With Battier out, look for LeBron to move to power forward for this game – would that mean some time guarding Tim Duncan? It will be the first time Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has had to adjust his starting frontcourt since the 2012 playoffs.
Because of the lockout, these teams met once last year and the Heat rolled 120-98 in South Florida. LeBron had 33 points and 10 assists, and Chris Bosh had 30 as Miami played without an injured Dwyane Wade. Still, the Heat shot a scorching shot 68 percent in the second half and outscored the Spurs 71-35 – the Spurs led by 14 at intermission. San Antonio, which played without Ginobili, was led by Tony Parker’s 18 points.
Spurs at Heat Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Heat are six-point favorites with the total at 205.5. The Spurs are 9-5-1 ATS this season, 6-3 on road (all trends entering Wednesday), and 9-6 “over/under”. Miami is 6-7 ATS and 7-6 O/U.
The Spurs have covered six of their past seven on the road. It is 6-1-2 ATS in its past nine in the second of a back-to-back. Miami is 5-0 ATS in its past five Thursday games. The Heat are 8-1 ATS in their past nine with at least three days of rest. Miami is 0-4 ATS this season vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-1 in Miami’s past eight home games. The over is 7-1-1 in the Spurs’ past nine in the second of a back-to-back. The favorite has covered in the past six meetings.
NBA Picks: Spurs at Heat Betting Predictions
The Spurs should be gassed as this will be their third game of the week already and the finale of a six-game road trip. Miami somehow will have had four days off, which is essentially the all-star break.
I’m not sure how the Spurs can stop the Big 3 – especially as Bosh is scorching-hot right now. He is averaging 23.7 points and 11.3 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field over the past three games. And even if the Spurs keep it close, that bodes well for Miami. In games this season in which the score is within five points in the final five minutes, the Heat are 8-0. They are the NBA’s only unbeaten in that category. Give the points and take the over.
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