NBA Picks: Thunder at Heat Game 5 Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/20/2012
Things are not looking good for the NBA season to be extended past Thursday night’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Miami with the Heat leading the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-1.
First off, the Thunder’s chances of winning the series are very small. Only eight teams in NBA playoff history have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a series and never in the Finals. In fact, teams down 3-1 have made it to Game 6 just 38.5 percent of the time since 1956 in all playoff series entering this postseason. No team in Finals history down 3-1 has even forced a Game 7.
In addition, the Heat are 4-0 in Game 5s with a 3-1 series lead since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade last year. On the bright side, the Thunder rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio, but they haven’t faced an elimination game yet in these playoffs. In 2010, the Thunder lost an elimination Game 6 vs. the Lakers. Last year, they won an elimination Game 7 at home vs. Memphis but then dropped a Game 5 at Dallas to be knocked out.
Miami looks to become the third team all-time and first since the ’06 Heat to sweep the middle three games at home in the 2-3-2 Finals format. A Thunder victory brings the Finals back to OKC for Sunday, which I would preview. A Heat win means you get an early 2013 NBA title preview story here at Doc’s before the Association goes to bed until the fall.
Thunder at Heat Betting Story Lines
You can analyze all you want about why the Thunder have dropped three straight in this series, but I think it’s easy. Obviously LeBron has been the best player on the floor since Game 1. Yes, the Thunder have made a few stupid mistakes, like Russell Westbrook committing a silly foul late in Game 4’s 104-98 loss when the Heat won a scramble for a jump ball (thanks to Shane Battier), and Westbrook obviously didn’t know the Heat only had a few seconds on the shot clock.
But to me the blame goes squarely on one person: James Harden. The Thunder were supposed to have a Big 3 to rival Miami’s, but Harden is MIA in this series. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year has shot 2-for-10 in the past two losses with a combined 17 points. Harden averaged 18.5 points in the West Finals vs. San Antonio but is at 10.8 vs. the Heat. He is shooting 35.1 percent (13-of-37) and 28.6 percent on three-pointers (4-of-14). And after being held to single-digit scoring just four times in 62 regular-season appearances, he has three vs. Miami. In 11 minutes with Harden on the bench in Game 4, the Thunder shot 57 percent and did not commit a turnover. In 37 minutes with Harden on the floor, the Thunder shot 46 percent and committed 11 turnovers. It was the second straight game that Oklahoma City was outscored with Harden on the court.
OKC was supposed to have the superior depth largely because of Harden, but the Heat have flipped the script. Shane Battier has been great at times in this series and Mario Chalmers scored 25 points in Game 4 – just two fewer than all Thunder players other than Kevin Durant (28) and Westbrook (series-high 43). In fact, Battier has outscored Harden in this series and Chalmers nearly has. The Heat have outscored Oklahoma City’s starters by 17 points in a four-game stretch in which the total margin is just five points (in Miami’s favor).
LeBron is your lock Finals MVP and he’s scoring consistently from the low post, something that is clearly catching OKC off guard (it’s something James worked tirelessly on this offseason). James scored 16 points in the paint during Game 4 and has scored more than 15 points in the paint in every game this series after failing to reach that mark in any of last year's Finals. And when the Thunder do try to double him there, he’s passing out well to the perimeter as noted by his 12 assists in Game 4 and Miami’s 10 hree-pointers. So it’s pick your poison.
And do you think James will be amped up on Thursday? He has never been one game from an NBA Championship, and he would get a major monkey off his back – remember, recent superstars like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone never won titles, mostly thanks to Michael Jordan.
Speaking of MJ, LeBron will be ahead of Jordan’s curve. LeBron appears poised to win his first ring at 27. Jordan didn’t win his first ring until he was 28. LeBron has now been to three NBA Finals series before Jordan reached his first. Jordan never scored at least 25 points in 14 straight games in a single postseason. LeBron has done that twice, in 2009 and currently.
Thunder at Heat Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami opened as a three-point favorite with the total at 193.5, according to NBA odds on BookMaker. The Heat are 9-3 ATS at home in postseason and 7-5 ‘over/under’. The Thunder are 5-3-1 ATS on road in playoffs and 6-3 O/U.
OKC is 4-1 ATS in its past five when its opponents scores at least 100 points in the previous game. The Thunder are 2-6-1 ATS in their past nine after an ATS loss. The Heat are 6-2 ATS in their past eight games after an ATS win. Miami is 4-0 ATS in its past four playing on one day of rest. The over is 8-1-1 in Miami’s past 10 games on one day of rest. The favorite has covered five of the past six meetings between these teams.
NBA Picks: Thunder at Heat Betting Predictions
Well, I picked the Heat before the series to win in six games so that means I stick with my guns and pick an OKC victory in Game 5 or use more common sense after what I have seen in the past three games. Something has to be done with Harden – maybe it’s time to start him. Put him at the point full-time and let Westbrook, who was brilliant in Game 4, essentially play shooting guard.
OKC could have won these past three games if a shot or loose ball or foul had gone its way. The games have been that tight. The Thunder haven’t lost four straight this season or last. I don’t think they do here. So Oklahoma City and the over it is.
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