This Thursday night at American Airlines Arena, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will square off in Game 1 of a best-of-seven showdown, with this year’s NBA Championship hanging in the balance.
BetOnline has opened the Heat as -225 favorites to win their second straight title, with San Antonio listed as a +195 underdog on the series price. The early line for Game 1 has Miami favored by 5.5 points at home with the total set at 194. The following is a breakdown of this series by the numbers.
The Spurs were opened for the playoffs as 10/1 third-favorites to win it all as the second seed in the West.
After sending the Los Angeles Lakers home in four games, they battled Golden State in the conference semifinals. With the best-of-seven series tied at two games apiece, San Antonio suddenly found its championship form with back-to-back victories by a combined 30 points to end that series in six games. The momentum really began to build in the Western Conference Finals in a surprisingly easy four-game sweep of Memphis.
The Spurs come into this series 12-2 straight up and 10-4 against the spread in 14 playoff games. The total has been evenly split at 7-7.
Miami opened this NBA playoffs bracket as a 5/8 favorite to win it all.
After meeting little resistance in a four-game sweep over Milwaukee in the opening round, the team bounced back from a stunning 93-86 loss to Chicago in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals as a 12.5-point home favorite with four straight victories to end that series in five games.The trouble began when Indiana came to town in the conference finals, but in the end the Heat rose to the occasion with a dominating 99-76 Game 7 victory as seven-point favorites at home.
They are 12-4 SU in the postseason but 9-7 ATS. The total has gone an even 7-7-2 in the 16 games.
San Antonio wins the series if:
The Spurs have the experience, depth and star power to win this series, but their margin for error is significantly less than that of their opponents. They will come into this series well-rested after a nine-day break, but that could lead to some significant rust in Game 1 that could prove costly if they get off to a slow start.
San Antonio knows it has an advantage playing a team that just battled its way through a seven-game series, and its ability to exploit that fatigue with a win on Thursday night would go a long way towards pulling off the upset.
It is obvious that Tony Parker and Tim Duncan will have to play to their ability in every game of this series for the Spurs to win. Parker leads the team in scoring in the playoffs with 23 points a game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three-point range; Duncan is adding 17.8 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds a game.
However, the bigger key is for players such as Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green to have the series of their lives. San Antonio actually has the better balance across its entire lineup, but nobody on this list can afford to take a night off or have a bad game if it is going to have any shot at beating Miami four times in the next seven games.
Miami wins the series if:
The "Big 3" cannot afford to turn into the "one and only LeBron James show" like it did at times during the Indiana series. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh need to be fully engaged from the start in order for the Heat to play like the dominant team that won 27 straight games at one point in the second half of the regular season. And it should not take the drama of a Game 7 for Ray Allen to finally start hitting shots from three-point range.
The Heat still have more pure talent than the Spurs, but they have given their opponents a pretty good blueprint on how to even the playing field through their lackluster performance at times against the Pacers.
Looking at the stats from the Indiana series, when the Heat are moving the ball around, hitting their shots, forcing turnovers and keeping things close underneath the boards, they are almost impossible to beat. James will continue to get his points and dominate during stretches of games when he has to, but Miami as a team will make life much easier on itself when all of its players are executing the fundamentals like they did this past Monday night.
San Antonio vs. Miami Betting Trends
The Spurs are 6-1 SU in their last seven home games, but 4-3 ATS. They are 6-1 SU in their last seven games on the road and 6-1 ATS as well. The total has stayed "under" in 13 of their last 16 road games, but they have gone"over" in four of its last five games at home.
The Heat are 0-5 ATS in their last five games following a SU win, and 3-5 ATS in their last eight games overall. The total has stayed under in their last three games after they went over in Game 5 against Chicago and the first four games of the Indiana series.
Head to head in this showdown, the series is tied at 5-5 SU and ATS over the last 10 meetings. But Miami has won the last four games SU and is 3-1 ATS, and the total has stayed under in seven of those 10 meetings.