Editor's Note: Kevin Rogers is on fire in the NBA, going 18-7 his last 25 plays! His Game 2 winner between the Heat and Thunder can be purchased on VegasInsider.com Click to win!
The Thunder needed a massive rally to clinch the Western Conference championship over the Spurs, as Oklahoma City nearly repeated that effort in its Game 1 victory in the NBA Finals over Miami. After the Heat built a 13-point advantage halfway through the second quarter, the Thunder slowly crept back before pulling away for a 105-94 triumph to cover as five-point favorites. OKC leaned on its two young guns to take home the first franchise win in the NBA Finals since 1996.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 63 points, while scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. The Heat led 54-43 with a minute remaining in the first half before the Thunder pulled off a mini 4-0 run to cut the halftime deficit to 54-47. Miami cashed as three-point underdogs in the first half, while the 'over' of 97 ½ hit. LeBron James put together his most productive quarter in the second with 15 points, but finished with 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting from the floor.
Oklahoma City easily covered as six-point favorites in the second half by outscoring Miami, 58-40 in the final 24 minutes. The legs fell apart for Erik Spoelstra's team, playing their eighth game since Memorial Day, as Miami shot 3-for-16 from three-point range after drilling five of its first six attempts from downtown. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each struggled from the floor by making 11 of 30 shots for 30 points, even though Shane Battier picked up the slack with an impressive 17-point effort.
The Thunder won their ninth playoff game in nine tries at Chesapeake Energy Arena, as OKC improved to 6-3 ATS at home this postseason. Even though the third member of Oklahoma City's young trio, James Harden, scored just five points, Nick Collison put together a strong game off the bench by tallying eight points and pulling down 10 boards. The 'over' has hit in four consecutive contests for the Thunder, as Scott Brooks' club has eclipsed the 100-point mark in eight of the last nine games.
Obviously the biggest question is whether or not the Heat can bounce back in Game 2. Recent history says there's not a good chance at that, even though Miami was on the wrong side of a 95-93 loss to Dallas last June, as the Mavericks rebounded from a series opening loss. Over the last eight Finals, teams that lose the opener are just 3-5 SU and 3-4-1 ATS in Game 2's, while the 'over' is a strong 5-2-1 in this span.
Listed in bold below are the teams that lost the NBA Finals openers and how they fared in Game 2.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals (2004-2011)
Dallas (+4.5) 95 @ Miami 93
Boston (+6) 103 @ L.A. Lakers 94
L.A. Lakers 101 vs. Orlando (+6.5) 96
Boston 108 vs. L.A. Lakers (-1.5) 102
San Antonio 103 vs. Cleveland (+7) 92
Dallas 99 vs. Miami (+4.5) 85
San Antonio 97 vs. Detroit (+4.5) 76
L.A. Lakers (-8) 99 vs. Detroit 91
The Thunder improved to 3-7 ATS the last 10 home games off a home victory in Game 1, while winning all four times in this situation in the playoffs. Miami has put together a poor 3-8 SU/ATS record since March on the road off a loss, while going 0-3 SU/ATS as an away underdog overall.
VegasInsider.com's Chris David says it's easy to follow the favorite train right now, "This year's postseason has allowed gamblers to ride some waves to the cashier. San Antonio's 20-game winning streak was incredible for bettors. Also, you know the books weren't happy that the favorites were incredible in the second round (17-5 SU, 15-7 ATS) against the number. Those runs were solid, but the last hot streak of the playoffs might be the best yet and it's quietly putting the old adage that 'Defenses win Championships' to rest."
The Thunder are putting up consistent offensive numbers, as David points out that the Thunder and 'over' is the way to go, "In this year's playoffs, Oklahoma City has watched the 'over' go 12-4 (75%) and that includes a lucky ticket in Game 1. The Heat and Thunder had a nice pace at the half with a combined 101 points but the game slowed down as the margin got close. Despite the half-court play, 'over' bettors caught 21 late points in the final three minutes and celebrated - again."
"The total for Game 2 is hovering between 195 and 196 points. Based on OKC's red-hot offense, you either pass on the rest of this series or play OKC and the 'over.' The Thunder has put up triple-digits in 11 of their 16 playoff games and the worst effort came in a 77-point performance against the Lakers in Game 2 of their second round series. I mention that affair because that's the only time gamblers would've lost both ends of the OKC-OVER combination."
David mentions the fact that there was money to be made on the Western Conference champions throughout this postseason, "If you've blindly bet Oklahoma City and the 'over' in all 16 of its playoff games for one-unit ($100), you would be sitting on a profit of $1,420. I like to believe that all things balance out in the long run but going against this current streak would take a serious argument."
The series price on the Thunder rose to -280 (Bet $280 to win $100) after their Game 1 win, while the Heat sits at +260 (Bet $100 to win $260). Basically, OKC has split the next six games to win this bet, with three of those contests at home where they are unbeaten in the playoffs.
The Thunder is listed as a slightly higher favorite in Game 2 by laying 5 ½ points after opening up as five-point 'chalk.' The game tips off at 9:00 PM EST on Thursday and can be seen nationally on ABC.