NBA Finals Game 4 Preview + Unheralded Pitchers
IT’S A GAME 4 PREVIEW OF THE NBA FINALS:
CAN THE HEAT GET EVEN TONITE OR WILL A SIZZLING SPURS CREW SHOW UP AGAIN?
WHY WEDNESDAY WINNERS PHIL HUGHES OF MINNY AND BALTIMORE’S WEI-YIN CHEN DESERVE A TIP OF THE CAP
By Jim Hurley
There’s an eeriness about this year’s NBA Finals—right now it’s looking a whole lot like last year’s NBA Finals.
San Antonio wins Game 1; Miami bounces back to win Game 2; then the Spurs bury the Heat in a Game 3—last year it was a 113-77 demolition in the Alamo City, and the other night it was a rollicking 111-92 triumph by the Spurs in South Beach.
If the same script as last year is gonna play out here in Game 4, than Miami’s gonna knot the series—last year the Heat blasted the host Spurs 109-93 and the interesting part about that one from a wagering standpoint is San Antonio opened as a two-point betting favorite, but by tip time the Heat was a 1- or 1½-point favorite.
Now, the Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed Miami as a 5-point fav for this clash (and don’t be surprised if that climbs even higher closer to game time).
Anyway, you get the idea:
The Spurs won Games 1, 3 and 5 last June but never could close the deal on the franchise’s fifth NBA title as everyone remembers the dramatic Game 6 comeback (and overtime win) by Miami followed by the 95-88 win/cover in Game 7 engineered by LeBron James and Company.
Maybe it’s only in San Antonio’s worst nightmares that we’ll have a similar game-by-game result here for this year’s Finals but—first things first—the Heat have to step up to the plate and get this thing tied and we’ll let you know the immediate challenges that lie ahead for Erik Spoelstra’s squad in just a moment in our Jim Sez Game 4 NBA Finals Preview.
But one little pointspread handicapping note:
San Antonio is now 11-10 ATS (against the spread) overall in this year’s NBA Playoffs, and that includes two-of-three covers thus far in these Finals (see our chart below), and note the Spurs are 3-6 versus the vig away in this year’s post-season.
On the flip side, Miami is now 11-7 ATS overall this playoff season and the Heat will enter tonight’s Game 4 bash with a 6-3 spread log in its post-season home games.
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Here’s the Spurs-Heat NBA Finals series in game-by-game chart form (and note that all home teams are in CAPS below):
|6-5||SAN ANTONIO||- 5||Miami||110-95|
NBA FINALS—Game 4
SAN ANTONIO at MIAMI—Spurs lead series 2-1; 9:10 p.m. ET, ABC
Okay, so don’t think it will be a problem for Heat boss-man Spoelstra to rally the troops here after Miami surrendered a whopping 41 points in the first quarter of Game 3 (and 71 points in the first half).
Still, slowish starts have been the norm for Miami for much of this post-season—especially in its home games, for some strange reason—and so one thing to look for here is for James to post up plenty in the early going and make this a “man’s game” with his paint presence a real key.
No doubt the Heat’s been content to swing the ball ‘round the perimeter and take a fair share of spot-up jumpers in this series—yes, Miami drilled 51.6 percent of its field-goal attempts in Game 3 while hitting on 32-of-62 shots, but they could use some more trips to the free-throw line (18-of-24 FTs in Game 3 while San Antonio went 26-of-32 from the charity stripe this past Tuesday night) and James must march to the line plenty here after going just 2-of-3 from the line in Game 3.
Next up, the Heat must make its defensive switches better here—the lack of communication on “D” was an absolute killer the other night as all too often San Antonio shooters were left wide open as Kawhi Leonard’s game-high 29 points featured a batch of uncontested shots and three-point maven Danny Green had plenty of “air space” while drilling 7-of-8 field goals en route to his underrated 15-point game.
Expect the Heat to get more physical with San Antonio’s screeners—maybe Tim Duncan (14 points in Game 3) won’t take so kindly to being jostled back a bit, but the Heat have to show some toughness and bodying up the likes of finesse players Green, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili would be advised as well.
Finally, Miami must have that X-factor working, whether it be a double-digit rebound game off the bench from Chris “Birdman” Andersen (just five boards in Game 3) or whether it be an instant-offense performance from reserve G Norris Cole, who missed six of his nine field-goal tries in Game 3.
Gotta believe that the triumvirate of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will do better than their combined 53 points from Game 3 (Bosh hit all four of his FG tries but didn’t shoot it enough, obviously) and it’s becoming painfully obvious that G Mario Chalmers is “out to lunch” and has been ever since his cheap shot elbow into the ribs of Parker with six-plus minutes remaining in Game 2…did someone say karma?
Hey, as has been well-documented in recent days/weeks, the Heat’s been absolutely fantastic whenever coming off a SU (straight-up) playoff loss the past couple of years, but how has Miami fared spreadwise when coming off a post-season pointspread loss this year?
Here’s the results—note all the games listed below came after a Miami ATS (against the spread) defeat:
Hmmm. As you can see, the Heat’s a nifty 5-1 ATS when coming off a pointspread loss in this year’s playoffs and take note the lone setback—that 107-96 loss in Indiana—occurred in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and so the Heat actually was not coming off a spread loss against the same team (Miami had failed to cover the Game 5 clincher against Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference semifinal round).
THE JIM SEZ BASEBALL NOTEBOOK
There’s been way too many Tommy John surgeries, for sure this 2014 Major-League Baseball season, and there’s also been far-too-many star pitchers who have had troubles getting wins (we’re talking to you, San Francisco Giants RHP Matt Cain, among others!), but let’s take a brief moment to salute two hurlers who should be headed to this year’s All-Star Game providing their respective seasons don’t come off the rails these next few weeks:
Minnesota Twins RHP Phil Hughes (7-2, 3.17 ERA) was exiled from The Bronx this past off-season after going 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA last year for the New York Yankees, but he’s been born-again in the larger park at Target Field.
In fact, Hughes hasn’t been too bad on the road either, as he snagged a 7-2 win at Toronto on Wednesday afternoon (note the hard-hitting Blue Jays were a -160 betting favorite in that rubber game clash) and the former Bomber fanned nine batters and walked none in that tilt—so Hughes will enter his next start (at Boston next week) with a stellar stat line of 72 Ks and 8 BBs.
A fly ball pitcher who was a “bad fit” with the short rightfield porch at Yankee Stadium, this dude’s becoming one of the most valuable members of this Twins team that is quietly within two games of .500 (that’s 31-33) as we head towards Father’s Day weekend.
Meanwhile, Baltimore Orioles LHP Wei-Yin Chen just keeps rolling along even though hardly anyone seems to take note. Chen—who last night improved to 7-2 this year with a 3.76 ERA—threw seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball at Boston in a rain-interrupted 6-0 win last night, and did you know that Chen has walked just 11 batters in 76.2 innings?
Maybe you don’t have Hughes or Chen on your own little “fantasy league” team, but we’re gonna take a moment to give both guys a round of applause here.
Sure Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka gets all the national headlines and everyone in/around the New York area already is hyping him as the likely starter in this year’s All-Star Game in Minnesota, but here’s hoping American League manager John Farrell of the champion Red Sox has a couple of openings on his staff for these two under-the-radar stars.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in major profits in this year’s NBA Finals—hope you’ve been with us right from the very start of these pro hoop playoffs, folks, because we’ve absolutely cashed in big-time!
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 (Game 6 is Thursday night) and remember to cash in too with all the Major-League Baseball winners as Jim stays red-hot heading into summer!
NOTE: Catch our NBA Finals Game 4 recap—that’s Spurs vs. Heat—in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.
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