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The NBA Finals is building up to a dramatic conclusion after San Antonio’s Sunday Night Game 5 win over Miami.

The Miami Heat have been heavily favored all season to successfully defend their NBA Title. And for much of the season it looked as though that very heavy favoritism was more than justified, highlighted by a 27-game winning streak that stretched into the late part of the season.

After sweeping Milwaukee in the opening round of the Playoffs and then needing just five games to get past Chicago, it appeared as though the Heat would easily make it through the Eastern Conference Finals and defeat whichever team survived the West.

But it took the full seven games for Miami to eliminate the Indiana Pacers in a series in which neither team could win back-to-back games.

Still, Miami was roughly a 5 to 2 favorite to defeat West Champion San Antonio to gain the franchise’s third NBA Title and the second of the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh era.

But the Spurs have a lot of back class with four NBA Titles of their own over the past 14 seasons, with key contributors from all four Titles still on the roster and playing important roles.

Suddenly Miami is facing elimination after San Antonio’s Game 5 win gave the Spurs a 3-2 lead and a pair of opportunities to win the Title, albeit on the road in Miami, either in Game 6 on Tuesday or a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Spurs and Heat have alternated wins and losses, beginning with San Antonio’s Game 1 win in Miami. Thus Miami returns home for Game 6 having alternated wins and losses in 12 straight games.

The zig zagging of wins and losses for the Heat dates back to the end of a five-game winning streak that included four straight Playoff wins over Chicago after the Bulls had upset Miami in that series’ opener.

Looked at another way, dating back to the start of that 27-game winning streak, Miami has gone 5-6 straight up after going 44-3 from Feb. 1 through May 22!

Since losing back to back games on Jan. 8 and 10, Miami is now a perfect 12-0 both straight up and ATS following a loss, a fact that’s been noted in this column over the past few weeks as the Playoffs have unfolded.

All of those dozen wins have been by double digits with an average winning margin of 19.5 points per game, beating the point spread by an average of 13.6 points per game, truly an astounding streak of domination!

And therein lies the dilemma and potential for drama as the NBA season comes to an end.

Miami is a 7 point home favorite in Tuesday’s Game 6 as the Heat face elimination. The Total of 191 is the highest of the series.

After the first two games each stayed UNDER the next three have each gone OVER with none of the five going into overtime. The forecast prior to the start of the Finals was for San Antonio to win in 6.

The preference for the Spurs was based largely on their overall experience and outstanding coaching, factors that Miami’s prior Playoff foes did not possess. Nor did Oklahoma City possess those factors when the Heat defeated the Thunder in last season’s NBA Finals.

For the Spurs to win the series in Game 6 it would mean Miami’s lengthy streak of success following a loss, detailed above, would come to an end. It is always risky to predict the end of a streak.

These are the NBA Finals and both the Spurs and Heat are elite teams, just as capable of winning on the road as at home. Although Miami is favored to continue its streak of bouncing back from a loss, 7 points is a big impost to overcome when a win means the NBA Title for its opponent.

The preference is to expect competitive games in both Game 6 and a potential Game 7, making +7 an attractive take with the Spurs in Game 6. If Miami does force a Game 7 the preference would be to again back the Spurs if getting at least 6.

Playing the Total is bit more problematic since elimination games are often dictated by defense. Yet both teams have shown an ability if not a preference to run the court with only some unusually poor shooting keeping the first two games UNDER. Thus there is a slight preference to the OVER in the game or games that will end the NBA season.

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]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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