The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are tied at one game apiece in the 2014 NBA Finals, but the odds don't say that each team has an equal shot at taking home the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Miami barely outlasted San Antonio in Game 2 of the series, and San Antonio won decisively in Game 1. This series has been all about LeBron James—both his Game 1 cramp issues and his Game 2 production—and he'll likely dictate the outcome of this series based on how well he performs.
In a rematch of last year's NBA championship, the Spurs and Heat will look to set the tone for the rest of the series in Game 3. The Spurs can't let another fourth quarter slip away like they did in Game 2. Oh yeah, and like they did in Game 6 of last year's series.
What are the odds for each team for the rest of the series? Below is a table of the odds, courtesy of Vegas Insider on June 9.
|2014 NBA Finals Odds|
|San Antonio Spurs||5/4|
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs put together a fourth quarter for the ages in Game 1, shooting 14-of-16 from the floor and 6-of-6 from three-point range. Game 2 was a very different story, however. Gregg Popovich spoke about what happened in the quarter, via Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
We didn’t take advantage of things, we made bad decisions. The ball stuck to us. We tried to do it individually and we’re not good enough to do that. It’s how we have to score. We can’t put it in somebody’s hands and have them create everything for us. It’s got to be a group effort and we didn’t do that.
Dominating the fourth quarter is obviously a great road map to winning any basketball game, but the problems the Spurs had in Game 2 weren't just in the final 15 minutes.
Miami hung with San Antonio through the entire game because of San Antonio's inability to get a stop on defense. The team's defense wasn't porous, but it looked as if it lacked the physicality to contend with some of the bigger bodies on the Miami roster.
Chris Bosh also gave the Spurs some troubles during the contest—especially in the waning minutes. With 1:17 left in the game, he pocketed a corner three to give his team a two-point lead. With nine seconds left, Bosh delivered a great bounce pass to Dwyane Wade, who converted to give the Heat a five-point lead.
Miami wound up winning by two.
Bosh is one of the team's most important players. When he's converting from deep, establishing a presence inside and even passing the ball effectively, the Heat are difficult to defend.
San Antonio must do a better job preparing for Bosh's all-around game for Game 3.
While Bosh might be one of their most important players, James is still the king of the court for the Heat. After the most famous leg cramps in NBA history kept him out of the final minutes of Game 1, James came back with a vengeance in Game 2.
He made San Antonio's best defenders succumb to his style of play, basically making them useless, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote:
Not even All-Defensive Team member Kawhi Leonard could deal with James' under-control aggression and mix of attacks and pull-ups. James fouled him out. Boris Diaw, the Spurs' versatile weapon who defended James well in the past, was rendered useless.
James is determined to prove that his controversial Game 1 issues won't haunt the Heat during the remainder of the series. He's also out to prove that the cramps were a fluke incident that won't impact his game.
He showed that in Game 2, as he attacked the rim early on before hitting jumper after jumper in the second half. San Antonio defenders put a hand in his face, but that didn't stop him. He was on. He was hot. He was exactly what the Heat needed.
San Antonio has looked like the better overall team through two games, but never, ever sleep on a team with James running the show.