After nearly 33 minutes of play in Sunday’s Game 2 of the best of seven NBA Finals it appeared that there would be a second straight game that would be decided in the final minutes.
San Antonio, seeking to take a two games to none lead back home for Tuesday’s Game 3, led Miami 62-61.
Miami then played perhaps its best eight minutes of the season, outscoring the Spurs 33-5 to take a commanding 94-67 lead with just over seven minutes left in the game.
The Heat’s 103-84 win squared the Finals at a game apiece and turned the NBA Finals into a best of five series with the next three games to be played at San Antonio in the 2-3-2 Finals format.
After Miami needed seven games to defeat Indiana for the Eastern Conference Championship the Heat were made around 5 to 2 favorites (minus 250) to win the NBA Title. There was modest support for the underdog Spurs who had won the Western Conference Championship with a four game sweep of Memphis.
After San Antonio stunned Miami in winning the Finals’ opener, 92-88 last Thursday, the adjusted series price had the Spurs -125. That made for an attractive play on Miami which thanks to LeBron James had been the overwhelming favorite to repeat last season’s Title from the opening of training camp.
Thus those who did not play Miami to win the Championship because of the prohibitive odds throughout the season now had a chance to back the Heat despite Miami being down just one game to none.
At the same time those who had taken San Antonio to win the Title at odds of roughly +200 prior to Game 1 now had the chance to lock in a guaranteed profit regardless of the outcome by playing Miami at the now plus price.
Miami continues to be incredibly resilient following a loss. The Heat have not lost consecutive games since Jan. 8 and 10.
Following the 11 losses since Jan. 10 Miami is a perfect 11-0 both straight up and against the spread! Not only that, each of the 11 wins has been by 10 points or more! The average margin of victory in those 11 wins has been 19.8!
Even more impressive is that Miami has beaten the line by an average of 13.5 points per game!
Thus far in the Playoffs, Miami is 5 for 5 following a loss including their impressive win Sunday night over the Spurs.
San Antonio opened as a 2½-point favorite back home for Tuesday night’s Game 3 with the Total at 188.
As with most sports, basketball is a game of adjustments and that is especially true in Playoff series when teams face the same opponent from 4 to 7 times in a row.
We saw Miami make adjustments, especially defensively, following its game one loss to the Spurs and those adjustments resulted in 14 Spurs turnovers after San Antonio had committed just 4 in the opener.
The first two games were very competitive save for the fourth quarter of Game 2. There’s no reason to expect that the balance of this series won’t be just as competitive, given the talent and the coaching on both sides.
San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich is widely acknowledged as the best coach in the NBA today. Miami’s Eric Spoelstra is starting to get credit for being a coach that has made great improvement over the past few seasons, managing the egos of his star players as he emerges from the long shadow of Pat Riley.
It would not be a surprise to see this series follow the “zig zag” pattern with teams trading wins over the next few games before one teams heads back to Miami for a sixth game facing elimination.
Game 4 will be played Thursday and Game 5 on Sunday, all in San Antonio.
The call here remains San Antonio to win in 6 and the approach to playing the balance of the series will be to back the Spurs when even or down in the series if laying no more than 3 points at home and getting at least 4 on the road (in a potential Game 6 and 7 back in Miami).
Miami will be the play when coming off of a loss for, as Jim Croce sang long ago, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. And you don’t go against the Heat following a loss.” Just ask Leroy Brown.
In playing the Total let’s use a range of 187 to 193 as the “neutral” zone, looking to go OVER 187 or lower and UNDER 193 or higher.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]