Pivotal Game Five Tonight
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
HEAT AND MAVS ALL SQUARED AT TWO GAME APIECE
Though the Miami Heat have had riding time for the bulk of the series...and even though they will also enjoy home court advantage in two of the remaining three games if the NBA Finals go the distance...LeBron James and company have to be surprised that they're currently knotted up at two games apiece with the Dallas Mavericks.
If NBA games lasted 42 minutes, the Heat would have swept four games to none and would already be celebrating up and down South Beach. But, because Dallas knows how to close and Miami is STILL figuring that out in the first season together for the three musketeers, we have a tied series that could turn out to be an all-time classic.
In Vegas terms, the series has also been even:
- Both Dallas and Miami are 2-2 ATS
- Favorites and Dogs are 2-2 ATS
- Three of the four games were decided by three points or less
Totals have gone 1-3 to the Under at most widely available lines, though the one Over did end up going Under the closing line. To the degree the market has been wrong about the series, they've been expecting too many points. Over/Unders have ranged in the 187-189 range. The actual games have landed on 176, 188, 174, and 169.
What should we expect tonight? Are we due for the first blowout of the series because one team runs out of gas while the other still has legs (meaning you load up on the fresher team)? Are we due for a whole game that looks like the grinding fourth quarter from Tuesday Night because both teams are tired and nobody could get any real rest with just one day off (meaning you load up on the Under)? Are we do for a breakout game from a bench player that helps one team explode to an impressive faster paced win (meaning you want that team an the Over)? Let's run through some numbers and see what pops up.
GAME FIVE: MIAMI at DALLAS
Series tied 2-2
Vegas Line: Dallas by 1.5, total of 185.5
The market is expecting an influx of Miami money with the Heat in the bounce back spot...and because Miami was seen as the superior team entering the series. The public loves betting superior teams after a loss! And, note that Miami did win Game Three 88-86 as a dog after losing Game Two at home. That being said, Dallas has earned enough respect to this point that it's not an avalanche of money hitting the market. If Miami is as tired as they looked in the fourth quarter, it might be better for their backers to wait for Games Six and Seven at home after the two-day respite before Game Six on Sunday.
The total has dropped two points from Game Four back on Tuesday. Is that enough? The first two games in Dallas landed on 174 and 169. It's not like these teams are going to get worse defensively. But, both teams have shooters on the bench who could get hot and spike a low total with a string of treys.
GAME FOUR STATS
DALLAS 86, MIAMI 83
Shooting Percentage: Miami 49%, Dallas 46%
Three-Pointers: Miami 2/14, Dallas 4/18
Free Throws: Miami 17/24, Dallas 24/30
Rebounds: Miami 43, Dallas 41
Turnovers: Miami 13, Dallas 10
Vegas Line: Dallas by 2.5, total of 187.5
Notebook: You can see above that both teams could use some trey production off the bench. They combined for just 6 of 32 Tuesday Night from behind the arc. Early woes on bombs may have been a red flag indicator for that very tired fourth quarter we saw (particularly from Miami, who lost 21-14, and may not have topped 10 if not for fouls and a give-away dunk when Dallas was protecting against treys with a three-point lead). Miami was obviously playing well inside the arc for the free three quarters because they still shot 49% for the game even with a dead fourth quarter and few treys! Dallas was doing what they could with a sick Dirk Nowitzki. He was dead weight much of the night (great 3 of 3 start, another fantastic finish, awful in between!). That ended up not mattering because LeBron James was dead weight all night!
The mindset and impact of LeBron James may end up being the true handicapping key for the rest of the series. His reputation took a bit of a hit after Game Three when he didn't score much in the fourth quarter. But, he did play great defense and assisted on many important baskets. Closer followers of the game fought back in his defense when media types wanted to blast him. After Game Four, it was ALL BLAST. LeBron didn't play great defense...didn't want the ball...and was shown standing idly by on the repeated replays of Nowitzki's clinching layup.
- If LeBron James at his best shows up breathing fire, this series is over...particularly if that happens tonight in Dallas with a possible two tips in Miami on the remaining schedule.
- If LeBron James suffers a crisis in confidence, and drags the team down with him...Dallas could very easily win tonight and steal another game in Miami. We've seen the last three games that Miami is vulnerable when LeBron isn't doing much on offense. The Heat's offense has been mostly invisible in crunch time...and that's when champions are supposed to rise to the occasion.
JIM HURLEY is working very closely to gather insights in these key areas for tonight and the rest of the series.
- How is LeBron James handling the negative media, and his own negative impact on the team last Tuesday?
- Are many of the stars really as tired as they looked in the fourth quarter Tuesday? Miami looked like the keystone kops with all of their turnovers and clanked jump shots. Nowitzki was sick, so he has an excuse. Jason Kidd wasn't sick and only took three shots all night. J.J. Barea has enough energy to get to the paint but not enough to finish.
- What adjustments are likely to be made for Game Five? Dallas is always tweaking. They don't have the talent to steamroll people, so they have to out-think and out-execute them. What will Miami do to get James more involved in the offense? Handicapping Dallas this year in the playoff means anticipating their adjustments. Handicapping Miami means wondering if and when they're going to make any.
In addition to information from our on site sources, NETWORK is also combing through the data from past championships that were tied two games apiece. We're looking at the individual stats from minute-heavy players to see if they start to get tired in Game five. We're looking at pointspread trends, systems, and angles going back to the start of the 2-3-2 format. We're talking with our Wise Guy connections in Las Vegas and offshore to see what the smart money is doing. That's going to be VERY important tonight because the "dumb" money (which could end up being right anyway) is likely to be all over the Heat. And, of course, because computers never sleep, we've been running our simulations around the clock to try and account for every possibility.
That's all added up to tonight's MAJOR RELEASE that you can purchase right now here at the website. You can purchase it alone, or as a mix with a busy night in the baseball that includes interesting possibilities in Boston/NY Yankees, Chicago Cubs/Philadelphia, and Cincinnati/San Francisco (among others). We have great rates for seasonal packages. Our Early Bird Football Specials are up for summer purchase as well.
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