The long-awaited rematch between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs in this year’s NBA Finals became a reality this past Saturday night when the Spurs stunned Oklahoma City 112-107 in overtime as 3.5-point road underdogs to win the Western Conference Finals in six games.
The defending-champion Heat had already disposed of Indiana in six games to win their fourth straight Eastern Conference title. This now sets up Round 2 of what should be a continuation of a heavyweight bout that went the full seven games in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Looking back at all the results in this year’s NBA playoffs according to Doc’s Sports’ NBA scores and betting odds, the underdogs made quite a splash in the opening round with a 23-27 record straight up and a highly-profitable 33-15-2 record against the spread. The total went “over” in 31 of the 50 games. That trend held up through the conference semifinals, with the underdogs covering in 14 of 22 games. However, the best teams started to dominate as the playoffs wore on. The favorites excelled in the conference finals by compiling a 10-2 mark SU while covering in nine of the 12 games.
What we are left with is clearly the two best teams in the NBA once again battling it out in a best-of-seven affair. The Heat rolled through these playoffs with a 12-3 SU record in 15 games and they were a profitable 10-5 ATS. The total went “over” in 11 of the 15 games. The Spurs took a bit longer route to their second straight Western Conference Championship with a 12-6 SU record in 18 postseason games. They went just 9-9 ATS and the total went over in 10 of the 18 games.
Looking back at last year’s Finals, the Heat won the series 4-3 SU with a 3-4 record ATS. The total went over in four of the seven games. Miami averaged 97.0 points per game as opposed to San Antonio’s scoring average of 97.7 PPG, but the margin of victory in the seven games averaged 13.5 PPG. So while the series was tight in SU wins and losses, quite a few of the games themselves were not.
These two NBA powers met twice in the regular season, with similar results. The home team won each game both SU and ATS, and the total was evenly split 1-1. Miami won the first meeting 113-101 on Jan. 26 as a 3.5-point favorite at home. The total went over the 205-point closing line. San Antonio evened the score with a 111-87 romp as a 3.5-point favorite at home on March 6. The total stayed under the 206-point closing line. It comes as no big surprise that the Spurs have been listed as 3.5-point home favorites for Thursday’s Game 1 at the AT&T Center, according to Doc's Sports NBA odds. The total for that contest has been set at 198.5.
When you look at some of the key stats for each team in this postseason, they paint a picture of a very tight matchup between two highly-efficient teams. Miami has averaged 99.1 points, with LeBron James leading the way with 27.1 PPG. Dwyane Wade is second with 18.7 points and Chris Bosh rounds out the fabled Big Three with 15.2 PPG. The Heat have connected on 49.7 percent of their shots from the field and they are hitting 39.5 percent from 3-point range. James has also led the way under the boards with 6.8 rebounds as part of a team total of 34.6 rebounds a game.
San Antonio’s duo of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan has accounted for a good chunk of the overall production for their team. Parker has averaged 17.2 PPG while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and Duncan is adding another 16.5 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds. Parker does come into this series a bit nicked up with a left ankle injury. Manu Ginobili has come off the bench to score 14.3 PPG and Kawhi Leonard is averaging 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds. The Spurs, as a whole, are scoring 106.6 PPG and shooting 48.2 percent from the floor. They have converted on 39.2 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. The biggest advantage over Miami in this series could be under the boards with an average of 43.2 rebounds a game.
One of the biggest differences between last year’s NBA Finals and this year’s matchup is the fact that San Antonio has the home-court advantage. The other is a change in the series format from the traditional 2-3-2 one that has been used for years in just the NBA Finals to the standard 2-2-1-1-1 format that is used for the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Spurs have been opened as -130 favorites on the series odds, with the Heat listed as +110 underdogs.