The only thing more exciting than the 2013 NBA Finals itself is placing a big bet on the thrilling series between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
With the best-of-seven series set to tip off in just a few days, it’s time to start preparing your wagers and identifying which way you will lean in this series.
Some braver souls will bet the entire series right away, but I’m taking it one game at a time and looking to capitalize on each contest between these two conference champions.
Let’s take a look at the latest spread and point total, give some advice on how to bet and why, and make a prediction on the outcome of Game 1 in the first of our NBA Finals gambling guides.
*All lines courtesy of VegasInsider.com
When: Thursday, June 6, at 9 p.m. ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Regular-season series: Heat swept 2-0.
Spread: Heat -5.5
Take the points here and possibly consider going with the Spurs on the money line (+210).
History shows that teams coming off a tough seven-game series in the conference finals traditionally struggle in the NBA Finals—especially in Game 1.
Just last year, the Boston Celtics took the Heat to seven grueling games in the Eastern Conference Finals. That exhausting showdown certainly played a role in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 105-94 Game 1 victory, but Miami soon recovered and went on to win the next four contests and the championship.
Expect more of the same in 2013, as the well-rested and even more well-prepared Spurs travel to South Beach and look to get this matchup started off on the right foot.
With the Indiana Pacers providing a blueprint of how to beat the Heat inside, expect San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich to have his players—especially Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter—ready to exploit the mismatches and confuse Miami’s defense.
It’s a good bet that the defending champs will eventually adjust and win the series, but they will be stunned in Game 1 and outright lose as a home favorite.
Total: Over/Under 187.5
Lean toward the over in this contest.
Both the Heat and Spurs pride themselves on quick ball movement, three-point shooting and efficient offense. They’ve both been excellent all season long and throughout the playoffs in these departments, which is part of the reason they have made it this far.
They also just went against the two most stifling defensive teams in the league. The Spurs edged the Griz in four close games, while the Heat took seven to finally rid themselves of the pesky Pacers.
Which team will cover?
The lessons learned in offensive execution and simply finding a way to score against such stingy defenders will carry over into the Finals, where the intensity level on D isn’t likely going to be the same.
That’s not saying San Antonio and Miami are poor defensive teams—on the contrary, they are two of the better units in the Association—but they aren’t the best.
Points should flow in bunches as the stars on both sides find that they aren’t being marked as tightly or rotated to as quickly in the early going. Shots that were smothered before will have a window for release, and the offense should be more open.
With that in mind, it’s well worth a bet on the over here. This could wind up becoming a barnburner featuring a ton of points scored by both teams.
Predicted Final Score: Spurs 104 – Heat 97