NBA Finals Preview + Overachieving Marlins

THE NBA FINALS PREVIEW:
EVEN WITH AN IFFY TONY PARKER, THE SPURS ARE THE BETTING FAVORITES TO “GET REVENGE” HERE AGAINST THE HEAT…
PLUS WE LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR’S GAME-BY-GAME POINTSPREAD RESULTS WHEN MIAMI WON IT ALL IN 7…

THE BASEBALL UPDATE: THREE CHEERS FOR THE OVERACHIEVING FISH

By Jim Hurley

Okay, so we won’t necessarily categorize it as “trash talk”, but there was San Antonio’s mega-hero Tim Duncan immediately following his team’s exhausting 112-107 NBA Western Conference series-clinching overtime win against Oklahoma City last Saturday night declaring, “We’ll do it this time,” while referring to a second shot in the NBA Finals at the Miami Heat and soon thereafter Heat mega-star LeBron James told assembled media, “They (the Spurs) don’t like us. They don’t… They wanted us and we’ll be ready for the challenge.”

Maybe that’s not considered “fighting words” as compared to the 1980s rivalry of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, but it works.

The simmering pot that is this year’s NBA Finals has an unusual backdrop: Revenge!

After all, we haven’t had an NBA Finals rematch since the 1997 and ’98 Chicago Bulls downed the Utah Jazz in back-to-back title rounds, and there was a good share of bad blood there, and so why not a little “hatred” if you will here between two franchises that have captured seven overall NBA championships in the past 15 years:

The Spurs have won it all in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and—let’s be frank—blew it badly in last year’s Finals while losing out to the Heat in seven games.
Miami’s title history includes that pre-James championship back in 2006 along with the ones in 2012 and 2013 and so the true “Goliaths” of this sport will bang heads for the better part of the next two weeks—if we got seven games again this time than the season will end on June 20th and that’s precisely the date the Heat closed out the Spurs in a Game 7 last year.

Still, keep in mind the changes:

This series is not a 2-3-2 set-up as has been the case for the past 30-plus years when it comes to NBA Finals, as we’ll go to the conventional 2-2-1-1-1 alignment with San Antonio—a -130-to-$100 betting favorite in this series—sporting the home court advantage.
Take note that…

Overall, NBA Playoff Betting Favorites will enter this year’s Finals with a 31-50-1 ATS (against the spread) with two pick ‘em games, and so that means a $100 per-play on all the chalk sides this NBA post-season would have you down a whopping $2,400 while a $100 per-play wager on all the NBA Playoff Underdogs would have you up $1,590.

Also, Miami is 10-5 ATS this post-season and that includes a 4-3 away spread mark while San Antonio is a dead-even but vig-losing 9-9 versus the vig this playoff season... and note the Spurs are an electric 7-3 spreadwise at home.

NBA FINALS—
MIAMI vs. SAN ANTONIO—Game 1 is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, ABC

You tell us:

Can the San Antonio Spurs win this year’s NBA Finals without a full-speed, 100-percent healthy Tony Parker at the point or will his balky ankle—the one that kayoed ‘em from the second half of that aforementioned series-clinching win against the OKC Thunder last weekend—keep Gregg Popovich’s club down-and-out of things here?

The public reports state that Parker will start in Thursday’s Game 1 tilt in the Alamo City, and the general consensus is that the down time (that’s Sunday-thru-game time here) was a big help but keep in mind Parker’s tweaked or even hurt his ankle three different times this post-season and so nobody should believe the hype that he’s close to 100 percent here.

On the flip side, you wonder how much of the stress/strain the aforementioned James can handle here.

Check out the stat leaders in this year’s playoffs and you’ll see the four-time league MVP leads the Heat this post-season in scoring (27.1 ppg), rebounds (6.8 per game), assists (5.0 per) and steals (1.8 per game), and you’ve gotta assume the Spurs will defend James’ post moves with more double teams than he just saw in that six-game Eastern Conference series win against Indiana.

So, it’s essential that both Dwyane Wade (18.7 ppg) and Chris Bosh (15.2 ppg) score at or above their post-season averages here, and no doubt that a smaller Miami front wall needs an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to the boards where reserve F Chris “Birdman” Andersen could well be the key as he showed in that Game 6 romp over the Pacers with 10 rebs in just 13 minutes of game action.

Conversely, San Antonio—which sports five double-digit per-game scorers this post-season led by Parker’s 17.2 ppg average and Duncan’s 16.5 ppg mark—must get something productive from each of its players in the nine-man rotation that Popovich has espoused in these playoffs, and let us be the first to say that the Boris Diaw/Patty Mills combo (averaging 16.5 ppg between ‘em this post-season) probably needs to score 20 ppg or more per outing while Heat defenders are busy paying more attention to the other folks on the floor.

We saw in last year’s Finals where San Antonio reserve G Manu Ginobili looked “old” for periods of time during that round and still the Spurs nearly managed to win the crown without some solid showings, but it says here Ginobili (14.3 ppg these playoffs) must not be shy about going strong to the hoop where his drive-and-dish plays are key.

The Heat’s won it all two years in a row and head coach Erik Spoelstra is enjoying this time chatting up the “underdog role” here, but keep in mind that last year’s Finals took some crazy twists and turns right from the very start and we might have another case where one game that goes OT (see Game 6 a year ago) winds up deciding who wins and who loses this year’s championship round.

Revenge time for the Spurs—now let’s see if “Pop’s” club can get mission accomplished.

Here’s the regular-season head-to-head matchups between the Heat and the Spurs (note all teams are in CAPS below):

DATE WINNER    SPREAD   LOSER  SCORE
1-26  MIAMI    - 3½ San Antonio 113-101
3-6  SAN ANTONIO - 3½ Miami  111-87

Here’s a little summation of the two regular-season games:

Jan. 26…MIAMI 113, SAN ANTONIO 101—
Heat F Bosh drained 9-of-10 field-goal tries en route to a game-high 24 points as Miami led by as many as 29 points on this Sunday afternoon game in South Beach.

The Spurs played without F Kawhi Leonard (hand), Danny Green (hand) and Tiago Splitter (shoulder), but still San Ant sank half of its shots (38-of-76 FGs) and note key reserve Ginobili scored just one FG in seven attempts.

The Heat’s 58.1 percent shooting from the floor—that’s 43-of-74—included a modest 8-of-15 FG game for James, who registered 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

March 6… SAN ANTONIO 111, MIAMI 87—
The host Spurs charged out of the starting gate with a 37-22 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised to their 45th win of the regular season (against 16 losses) behind Duncan’s 23-point, 11-rebound game and the 14 first-quarter points from Parker, who finished up with 17 points and 4 assists.

Miami shot just 43 percent from the field in this tilt—that’s 34-of-79 as James finished just 6-of-18 from the field and he ditched his mask during the course of the game while getting hounded defensively by the aforementioned Leonard.

One final note here:

The Heat committed 20 turnovers in this loss and that included a team-worst five miscues by James.

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NBA FINALS 2013—
Now, here’s a look back at the 2013 NBA Finals with a game-by-game look to refresh your memory:

DATE WINNER    SPREAD   LOSER  SCORE
6-6  San Antonio    + 5  MIAMI 92-88
6-9 MIAMI - 6½ San Antonio  103-84
6-11 SAN ANTONIO - 2 Miami  113-77
6-13 Miami   - 1  SAN ANTONIO 109-93
6-16 SAN ANTONIO PK Miami   114-104
6-18 MIAMI    - 7 San Antonio 103-100 (ot)
6-20 MIAMI -5½ San Antonio  95-88

Take note that in last year’s NBA Finals the first two games went “under” the totals prices of 189 and 190 points, respectively, before the next four games all went over (188, 186, 189 and 192 points in Games 3-thru-6) and then Game 7 was “under” 188 points. So, overall last year’s NBA Finals produced a 4-to-3 advantage for the “under” players.

Note…

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will rake in the profits in this year’s NBA Finals as we roll on big-time in this post-season—hope you’ve been with us right from the very start, folks!

Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day of these NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs and remember to cash in too with all the Major-League Baseball winners!

THE BASEBALL REPORT
The Miami Marlins were supposed to be the sole tenants of the National League East basement this year—the Las Vegas sharpies had the Fish at a 69½ –win price prior to the start of this current campaign—but there they were heading into Tuesday’s Interleague game against visiting Tampa Bay with a 29-28 record (sixth-best in the NL) and making folks eat their words that this latest rebuilding project would take years.

The fact of the matter is Miami’s 21-11 at home, a plus 19 in the run differential category and sitting pretty with the second-most runs scored (258) in the senior circuit and right now working miracles without ace RHP Jose Fernandez, who will be forced to end his year at 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Okay, so the $64,000 question now is can the Fish stay afloat in the below-average NL East without Fernandez and with a side-arming Steve Cishek (12 saves in 13 opportunities) as its closer? Let’s just say the Marlins are playing with “house money” this year and they could make things very sticky for the Atlanta Braves who—at last check—were a mere 2½ games ahead of Miami in the battle for the top spot in the division.

NOTE: Our NBA Finals Game 1 Preview comes your way in tomorrow’s Jim Sez plus catch all our MLB News & Notes too!

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Nov

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