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NBA Game 3 Picks
The public seems undeterred by the thrashing LeBron and his teammates handed the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Finals betting round. Most of the action is leaning heavily towards Duncan and Parker bouncing back, and there’s a lot of reasons to believe that they will. Is home court advantage really that big of a deal to San Antonio?
It is and isn’t. San Antonio is just 1-5 ATS when hosting opponents that have a greater road winning percentage than 60%, and the heat are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games when playing a team with a winning record. That is slightly misleading because San Antonio has crushed teams at home in the playoffs, going 6-1 SU and 4-3 ATS in the post season. A win is a win at the end of the day and a tight -2.0 NBA Finals betting spread in Game 3 actually nullifies the trends to a certain extent. The Spurs are porous against the spread at home, but defiant in the win column.
Those choosing to back the Miami Heat can make an argument that they have the momentum after decimating the Spurs in Game 2. A rousing third quarter effort that buried the Spurs was generated by two general factors: the Heat getting hot (no pun intended) and the exact time San Antonio went ice cold. But if momentum is the reason you’re betting on the Heat, I think you’re relying too heavily on that intangible. There’s no such thing as momentum when you have teams like San Antonio and Miami involved.
Experience goes a long way, and you also have to understand that San Antonio almost resets every time they hit the floor. Unless they’re grabbing for life at 0-3 SU in a series, they’re never out of it and that says something. I’m also not super encouraged by the Heat relying on bench players while heading out on the road. There’s no trend in the history of the game that suggests that a supporting cast plays better on the road than at home, so take that out of your considerations before you bet on Miami in Game 3.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS -2.0 over Miami Heat
Tuesday, June 11 – AT&T Center  (ABC, 9:05 p.m. ET)
Series Tied 1-1
The Heat enjoyed big nights from Ray Allen (13 points) and Mario Chalmers (19 points) and basically patty caked their way to a complete stomping. When they have in-game momentum they are virtually unstoppable and score at will. Playing at home certainly helped because the crowd helped elevate the games of all their role players.
The Spurs, however, don’t mind losing blowouts all that much. As Jeff Gundy pointed out from the booth, the Spurs could lose by 3 or 3000 and it would have the same consequences: a loss. Pulling their starters early in the fourth in no way indicates that Popovich and Parker think they’re done for the series. They were merely avoiding injuries.
Across the stat board, both teams were virtually identical. They both hit above or around 50-percent from range, which is absolutely brilliant. The Spurs out-rebounded the Heat 44-to-36, but lost the turnover game 6-to-16. Where Miami held an edge was in general field goals where they shot 49.4 percent while San Antonio sank to just 41-percent.
The Spurs had uncharacteristic performances from Tim Duncan, who had just 9 points and 11 rebounds, while Tony Parker was held to just 13 points and 5 assists. A lot of that was because the two studs didn’t have their touch on Sunday night, but the Miami defense has to be credited for some of that. The Heat did a fantastic job of filling up the passing lanes the Spurs usually use in in their slash-and-kick game plan.
Just don’t believe that the Heat have solved the Spurs completely. You can’t assume that a team as reliable as the Spurs is going to fall asleep for two games in a row. You also can’t underestimate how good Popovich is at his job.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the Heat are already behind when it comes to coaching. They can respond to what they know in NBA Finals betting, and what the Spurs have been doing with their guards crashing the lane and looking for open shooters has been working so well through the playoffs that they haven’t tried anything else. Don’t worry Spurs fans, they have more options than that. It’s Popovich.
Whatever the Spurs have in store for Game 3, the Heat won’t see coming. Even if they just mix up their usual style of play to get Duncan and Parker the looks they need to be successful, it’ll be enough to beat the Heat. Miami still relies way too much on LeBron James going bananas and carrying them on either end of the floor. They’re not a bad bet in Game 3, but I think that if you rely solely on LeBron in betting you don’t understand all the facets effecting this matchup.
Bet San Antonio to cover and win outright in Game 3. You can take the tight point cushion if you need to, but no matter which way you cut it I think San Antonio can get back to grinding the Heat down on a per-possession basis. When that happens, I don’t think you can rely on Miami. They can’t win in a tight affair against a very good team when they’re not fully healthy.
NBA Finals Betting Pick – San Antonio -2.0 (UNDER)

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