NBA Finals Props Odds: Heat vs. Spurs Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/5/2013
The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA's most successful franchises since Tim Duncan arrived as the No. 1 overall pick out of Wake Forest in 1997. San Antonio is 4-0 in NBA Finals entering its series with the Miami Heat that begins Thursday night in South Florida.
But did you realize that the Spurs have never before faced the Eastern Conference's top seed in the Finals? In 1999 the Spurs beat the eighth-seeded New York Knicks in five games; in 2003, San Antonio beat No. 2 New Jersey in six games; in 2005, the Spurs beat No. 2 Detroit in seven practically unwatchable games (one of lowest Finals ratings ever); and in 2007, San Antonio swept East No. 2 Cleveland, a team led by some kid named LeBron James, who could have been a senior in college that year.
After that series sweep, Spurs star Tim Duncan spoke with LeBron immediately afterward and told James that the NBA would be his league soon and that the titles would come. Duncan obviously was 100 percent correct. And, clearly, this will be by far the best team that the Spurs have played in the Finals. Thus, I would take San Antonio's 16-6 all-time record in Finals history, the best winning percentage of any team (.727), with a grain of salt. Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have won 98 playoff games together, No. 2 among trios all-time. The record is 110 by the Lakers' Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper.
Let's examine a few series props for Heat-Spurs and start with Finals MVP odds at Bovada. Now, clearly, you just need to identify which team will win here to choose your Finals MVP and realistically there are only three choices: LeBron, Duncan or Parker. The NBA Finals aren't like the World Series where some out-of-nowhere player can win series MVP, like the Cardinals' David Eckstein in 2006 or Giants' Edgar Renteria in 2010 (good career but was way past his prime then). Superstars win Finals MVP awards.
LeBron won it last year, averaging 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game in totally outplaying Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. People don't remember that the Thunder were slight favorites entering that series and Durant was the slight MVP favorite. It wasn't close. LeBron is the overwhelming 4/9 favorite this year, and why not? Dwyane Wade (8/1) appears a shell of himself because of a knee injury, averaging just 14.1 points per game. Wade had a big Game 7 against Indiana, but it's clear he can't keep it up during a full series. Chris Bosh (20/1) has been so bad in these playoffs -- averaging 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds -- that he apologized to his teammates at one point. If the Heat lose this series in one-sided fashion, it wouldn't shock me if Bosh is dealt this offseason. So LeBron is going to put up huge numbers because he just doesn't have much help, rather like his Cleveland days.
Should Duncan (7/1) win MVP, he would move into solo second place with four Finals MVPs all-time, trailing only Michael Jordan (six). Roy Hibbert showed that a center could have his way with the smallish Heat. While Duncan is a Hall of Famer and had a good season, he is 37. He has been averaging a very good 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in the playoffs and should be able to dominate Bosh or Udonis Haslem. The Spurs are Parker's team now, however. His Game 4 performance to knock out Memphis was one of the best in these playoffs, shooting 15-of-21 from the field for 37 points with six assists and four rebounds. He's been battling a calf injury, but those nine days off should have Parker in great shape physically. And I think he will eat Mario Chalmers' lunch. Might the heat stick LeBron on him? Parker is the 9/2 Spurs favorite for MVP.
I think the Heat win the series, so take LeBron. The site lists James totals for the series at “over/under” 27.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists (all -115). He was over that points total but under the boards and assists against Indiana. San Antonio is not anywhere close to the Pacers defensively and doesn't have a Paul George, although Kawhi Leonard is a pretty good defender and probably draws James most times. I would take over the points and under the other two here as well. That James will get a triple-double is +190 and “no” at -230. I'd roll with “yes”. He's only had one in these playoffs but just barely missed a handful of others. Wade is at 16.5 points, and I like over there barely. The Spurs aren't as physical, so Wade should get to the basket more even with his knee problems. I also like Parker over 21.5 points.
Bovada also offers a prop on which of these four Spurs averages the most points in the series: Leonard (+190), Ginobili (+210), Danny Green (+250) and Tiago Splitter (+300). Leonard leads that group at 13.0 points per game in the postseason, but he's going to be gassed dealing with James. I'd take Ginobili, who also should be very refreshed with all that time off.
Will there be a flagrant foul in the series? Yes is -200, and I'd almost be shocked if there isn't. Not so much because either team is dirty -- well, Wade is starting to get a reputation -- but the NBA is now so overly cautious when there's a hard foul that it's usually given a flagrant (refs can then review it on video immediately). No here is +160, but I lean yes. Will any game go to overtime? No is the -260 favorite. The Spurs and Heat played two very close games during the regular season, but neither team was whole in either game. Miami hasn't played an OT game in the past two Finals but did have one in Game 1 against Indiana the last round. The Spurs have played a whopping four overtime games in these playoffs, winning three. Take yes here on value at +200.
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