NBA Finals Game One Preview

THE NBA FINALS BEGIN TONIGHT: WE PREVIEW THE HEAT VS. SPURS GAME 1 SHOWDOWN IN SAN ANTONIO … PLUS OUR MLB NEWS & NOTES SEGMENT.

By Jim Hurley:

The NBA history books say that the Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers own a combined 33 championships – that’s 17 for the former and 16 for the latter – and then there’s the Chicago Bulls with six NBA titles.

The next-best in the championship pecking order lists the San Antonio Spurs with four titles (1999, 2003, ’05 and ’07) and the Miami Heat one of four franchises with three (2006, 2012 and ’13) and so that makes these teams the modern-day monsters of the sport.

Agree?

What could well be a modern-day best-of-seven classic, we set sail on this year’s NBA Finals, so here goes with a Game 1 Preview:

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(We're heading into the Finals on a roll, winning 11 of 16 in the Conference Finals)

NBA FINALS – MIAMI at SAN ANTONIO – Game 1 at 9 p.m. ET, ABC

The $64,000 question here is which one of ‘em gets out of the starting gate with a Game 1 win:

No doubt the Spurs – who are listed as a – 140-to-$100 betting favorite for the series and a 4 ½-point betting fav for this series opener – are playing with a major chip on their shoulder after having lost a painful seven-game series to Miami a year ago in the 2013 NBA Finals but tonight all eyes will be on a still-ailing Tony Parker who missed the second half of last Saturday’s Western Conference Finals-clinching overtime win against Oklahoma City with a bum left ankle.

Now, Parker says he’ll be fine but consider he’s missed time now in three different playoff games this spring because of the ankle and it’s no gimme that he’ll be okay for 40-or-so minutes of action here and so while everyone’s eyeballing the point guard’s every move we’ll also be monitoring who else can pick up the scoring/assists slack should Parker be forced to the pine early with possible pain.

If San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich – the NBA’s Coach of the Year this past regular season – can get a 17-point, 6-assist type night from his star guard (those are his career numbers, folks, and pretty much his playoff numbers this year too) than San Antonio should be in good stead in Game 1 as long as everyone else does his part – so that means Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili must be efficient with their shot-taking and the all-important reserves in a nine-deep rotation must be a factor and that’s where the Spurs may really have an edge here.

Sure, the Spurs copped Game 1 of last year’s NBA Finals and still lost but we believe it’s critical that Parker, Duncan and mates lock down the Game 1 win here … you might have noticed that Miami verbally kicked itself for losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana before roaring back and gotta believe LeBron James (team-leading 27.1 ppg this post-season) will be ultra-active here although we do see James being forced out of his post-up spot at times by San Ant double-teams – look for the likes of Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard all to help out or get help when dealing with “The King” in the painted area.

In fact, we believe that James’ assists here will be the magic number:

If the four-time league MVP can pass it out to open stand-still shooters Dwyane Wade (18.7 ppg), Chris Bosh (15.2 ppg) and key backup Ray Allen (9.1 ppg and a real late-game assassin) than Miami’s whole offense will open up. Plus, one other major key is to check out how many “garbage points” Heat reserve Chris “Birdman” Andersen gets on put-backs, tip-ins, etc. as we really set the tone for that series-clinching win against the Pacers last week with some big boards/points.

The table is set … it’s Heat vs. Spurs Part II with NBA historians sittin’ up and takin’ notice!

Pointspread Notes – Miami is 10-5 ATS (against the spread) overall in this year’s NBA Playoffs and that includes a 6-2 spread mark at home and a 4-3 ATS log away. Note that the Heat is 10-5 against the odds as betting favorites in this post-season and so this Game 1 in the Alamo City will mark the first this this post-season that Miami will be in the underdog role. On the flip side, San Antonio’s a dead-even but vig-losing 9-9 ATS this post-season and that includes a tidy 7-3 ATS log at home and a dubious 2-6 road spread mark. Also, San Ant’s 7-7 ATS as the chalk sides in these playoffs while going 1-2 ATS as dogs and 1-0 in a pick ‘em against Portland.

NBA FINALS – THE LAST 10 YEARS
Here’s a look back the past 10 years’ worth of NBA Finals:

YEAR CHAMPION GAMES LOSER
2013 Miami 7 San Antonio
2012 Miami 5 Oklahoma City
2011 Dallas 6 Miami
2010 Lakers 7 Boston
2009 Lakers 5 Orlando
2008 Boston 6 Lakers
2007 San Antonio 4 Cleveland
2006 Miami 6 Dallas
2005 San Antonio 7 Detroit
2004 Detroit 5 Lakers

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! 11-5 In the Conference Finals! Go online right here 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!

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES

Okay, so we’re two-plus months into this 2014 Major-League Baseball season and so time to check ‘round the bigs and see some records for teams behind specific starting pitchers …

In the American League

No surprise that the New York Yankees are 9-2 in the starts made by RHP Masahiro Tanaka but note the Yanks are a perfect 4-0 in Tanaka’s day-time starts and he’s on the hill for today’s matinee tilt against surging Oakland – let’s see if he can help the Yanks a three-game home sweep at the hands of the A’s …

Want to know one reason why the Tampa Bay Rays are going, going, gone in terms of any/all post-season hopes this year? The Rays – losers of their last nine in a row following last night’s 5-4 setback versus Miami – now are 3-8 in righty Jake Odorizzi’s starts and that includes a shabby 1-5 away mark …

Did you know the Detroit Tigers are a combined 24-11 in the starts made this year by RHPs Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander? The Motowners are an identical 8-4 behind both Scherzer and Verlander; and they’re 8-3 behind Porcello who lost an 8-2 verdict against Toronto on Wednesday night …

In the National League,

The dreary Philadelphia Phillies are 1-7 in starts made this season by veteran LHP Cole Hamels and note the Phils have dropped all three of Hamels’ road starts. It’s worth noting that the Phillies are a composite 23-26 in the starts made by all other Phillies starters. Hey, not as bad as we thought! …
The Cincinnati Reds have not had a whole lot to smile about this season but the NL Central club is a heady 8-3 in starts made by kid RHP Alfredo Simon (and that includes a dazzling 6-1 away mark) …

In the NL West, check out the Arizona Diamondbacks who may be steadily improving this year after a dreadful starts but they’re just 2-10 in starts made by RHP Brandon McCarthy and that “features” a dour 1-7 mark in night games.

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

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