Heat In The Finals Again

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THE HEAT HEADS TO ITS SECOND STRAIGHT NBA FINALS WITH A HARD-FOUGHT 101-88 WIN OVER THE CELTICS IN GAME 7 BATTLE ROYAL ...

PLUS NFL WEEK 1 BETTING TRENDS AS WE TACKLE 49ERS-PACKERS, STEELERS-BRONCOS AND MORE!

By Jim Hurley:

C'mon, you all knew the Miami Heat was getting back to the NBA Finals this year ...didn't you?

Okay, so the prohibitive favorites to win the NBA's Eastern Conference prior to the start of this lockout-shortened 2011-12 season had - in owner Mickey Arison's words - a "roller-coaster ride" to get back but maybe you could argue the case that now the pressure is off LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat team.

How's that"

Well, last night's stirring 101-88 win/cover by Miami over 7 ½-point pup Boston really was a pressure point as the Heat had to win or else and now Erik Spoelstra's club will head into the upcoming NBA Finals as the underdog side against the Oklahoma City Thunder and maybe that'll play into Miami's hands. Right?

All we know is that the Heat was down 53-46 at the half and down eight points early in the third quarter of this Game 7 tilt and roared back on some expected happenings such as James taking it hard at the rim en route to his game-high 31 points and than there was some unexpected goodies such as the aforementioned Bosh draining three triples en route to his ultra-important (and ultra-clutch) 19-point performance.

Bosh's treys were clutch but even Boston head coach Doc Rivers claimed a James bombs-away triple was a "back-breaker" and there were the Celtics front-rimming lots of fourth-quarter shots and literally running on fumes when they most needed an energy jolt. Yes, Father Time did have the last laugh on the Celtics' so-called "Big Three".

You might recall that our pre-Game 7 Jim Sez column claimed for the Celtics to win that point guard Rajon Rondo needed a 2.5-to-1 type assist-to-turnover ratio and that was "mission accomplished" thanks to his stunning 14 "dimes" and only 3 turnovers (that's almost a 5-to-1 ratio, folks) but we also said Boston needed at least 25 points from their three-point shooting and yet got only 18 points from beyond the arc on rotten 6-of-19 shooting plus Miami won the board war 38-to-33 and the Heat corralled Kevin Garnett whose three first-half fouls really did - as Rivers stated - knocked him out of the rhythm of this Game 7.

In the end, the better team - and the younger legs - won out as Miami stutter-stepped its way back into another NBA Finals.

Is this the start of the "multiple championships" that we heard about two summers ago? Stay tuned.

Here's how the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics-Heat went in game-by-game fashion (note that all home teams below are in CAPS):

DATE FAV SPREAD DOG RESULT
5-28 MIAMI - 8 Boston MIAMI 93-79
5-30 MIAMI - 8 Boston MIAMI 115-111 (ot)
6-1 BOSTON - 2.5 MIAMI BOSTON 101-91
6-3 Miami - 2 BOSTON BOSTON 93-91
6-5 MIAMI - 8 Boston Boston 94-90
6-7 Miami - 2 BOSTON Miami 98-79
6-9 MIAMI - 7.5 Boston MIAMI 101-88

NFL WEEK 1 BETTING TRENDS

As we stated in yesterday's edition of Jim Sez, it's never too early to think National Football League action and so with the 2012 campaign now less than three months away we present more Week 1 Betting Trends:

On Sunday, September 9th, it's ...

ST. LOUIS at DETROIT - Last year's Lions made major strides en route to the team's first playoff berth in more than a decade but did you realize the Motowners finished a less-than-spiffy 7-9-1 ATS (against the spread)? Note that the St. Loo Rams have failed to cover their season-opening game for the past five consecutive seasons.

MIAMI at HOUSTON - The Texans rang up a decent 4-2-1 home favorite's spread mark last year and that included the season-opening 34-7 triumph over 8 ½-point underdog Indianapolis. Miami, meanwhile, has finished 8-8 spreadwise in each of the past three years and note the Fish are 1-4-1 ATS in Week 1 games the past six years.

SAN FRANCISCO at GREEN BAY - Last year's GB Packers rolled up an 11-6 spread log that included a 10-6 ATS mark as chalk sides. The 49ers, on the other hand, finished last year 12-5-1 versus the vig and that included outright road wins in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Detroit in the first six weeks of the season. San Fran's covered its season-opening tilt six of the last nine years.

SEATTLE at ARIZONA - The Cardinals sported a winning spread mark at home last year (see 4-3-1 ATS) while the Seahawks were an under-the-radar 11-5 versus the vig in 2011 and that include Seattle going 8-3 against the odds following a Week 6 bye.

CAROLINA at TAMPA BAY - Nobody got rich betting on the TB Bucs last year as the Gulf Coast gang finished 4-12 against the Las Vegas prices but how about the fact the Buccaneers lost their two games to the Panthers by 19 and 32 points. Double-Ouch!

PITTSBURGH at DENVER - Believe it or not, the Steelers last year finished up 2-7 spreadwise away including that 29-23 overtime loss in the Mile High City. On the other hand, the Broncos have failed to cover five of their last seven season openers.

On Monday, September 10, it's ...

CINCINNATI at BALTIMORE - The Ravens snapped up a pair of pointspread wins against the Cincy Bengals last year but did you realize that Baltimore's a money-toasting 5-10 ATS in its last 15 games against this AFC North rival.

SAN DIEGO at OAKLAND - The SD Chargers used to be money in the bank but in the past four years the Bolts are a collective 31-34-2 against the odds. Note that the Raiders will enter this prime-time affair having failed to cover six of their last nine season-opening affairs.

NOTE: Catch our NBA Finals Preview - the Miami Heat vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder -- in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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