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Game 7 - Spurs at Heat

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The NBA season will receive full closure on Thursday with Game 7 between San Antonio and Miami in the Finals. The Spurs were minutes away and even seconds away from picking up the fifth championship in franchise history, but Miami never quit in an epic 103-100 overtime triumph to force the first Game 7 in the Finals since 2010.

Although San Antonio covered as seven-point underdogs, Miami improved to 13-0 straight-up the last 13 games off a loss on Tuesday. LeBron James converted only three field-goal attempts in the first three quarters before going off for 14 points in the fourth quarter. James lost his headband on a drive to the basket in the fourth, but never lost his head en route to a triple-double (32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists), while Ray Allen's three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation sent the game to overtime.

Allen's late trey kept hope alive for the 'over' of 192, as his three tied the game at 95-95. The Spurs squandered a 10-point lead heading into the final period and even a five-point edge with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. However, James and Allen each drilled shots from downtown, while Kawhi Leonard missed one of two free throws to keep the Heat hanging around.

The 'over' obviously cashed in the extra session with 13 points scored in the final five minutes, the fourth straight 'over' in this series. From the "You won't see this again" department, Tim Duncan put up one of his best halves in his career by shooting 11-of-13 from the floor for 25 points in the first 24 minutes. However, the future Hall-of-Famer scored just five points the rest of the way, while not registering a point in the final 21:30 of the game.

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Manu Ginobili
couldn't continue his magic from Game 5 (24 points), as the Spurs' guard scored just nine points in Game 6, while committing a costly turnover in the final minute of overtime. Danny Green's heroics from three-point range came up short on Tuesday, hitting just one trey after converting 25 three-pointers in the first five games of the series. One of the constants for the Spurs, Tony Parker, played excellent in the first half of Game 6, while scoring five crucial points in the last minute of regulation before Miami's late rally.

One of the major questions coming into Game 7 is the health of Dwyane Wade. The Heat guard banged knees early on with Ginobili, while putting up only two points (on two free throws) in the fourth quarter and overtime. Chris Bosh didn't hit a lot of big shots in Game 6, but his assist to Allen on the game-tying three-pointer and two clutch blocks in overtime helped lift the Heat to their third Game 7 since the "Big Three" joined forces in 2011.

VegasInsider.com's Chris David analyzes the success of the Heat in this decisive situation, "Since Miami created its "Big Three" of James, Wade, and Bosh, the team has faced two Game 7's. In those games, the Heat has gone 2-0 and both of the wins were by double-digits. However, Miami was trailing in both of those contests at halftime. In this year's Eastern Conference Finals, Indiana led 40-39 before getting outscored by 15 points (52-37) in the second-half. And in last year's conference finals, Boston led 53-46 at the break before Miami ran past the Celtics, 55-35 in the final two quarters, including a 28-15 fourth quarter."

The Heat cashed second-half bets in Game 6 as a seven-point favorite after trailing at the half, 50-44. David breaks down the profit opportunities so far in this series, "Betting halves in pro basketball is far from easy but based on the above trends, you could take San Antonio plus three points in the first-half of Game 7. Also, it helps to know that the Spurs have led the Heat in three of the last four games at the break and they were tied 49-49 in the other matchup (Game 4). In Game's 1 and 2, Miami led at half by three and five points respectively."

The famous Zig-Zag theory has been true from a straight-up perspective for the Heat since the start of the Eastern Conference Finals with each team alternating wins and losses the last 13 games. Will that hold up in Game 7? "Even though Miami didn't cover the number in Game 6, it did improve its record to 7-0 after a loss in the playoffs. San Antonio is also perfect off a loss in this year's postseason (4-0) and all of the wins have been by double-digits. It's hard to ignore that trend, plus it's hard to lay points against a Spurs team that is 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS on the road in the playoffs. Not to mention that two of the three losses came in overtime. Technically, the Spurs have played one bad road game in the playoffs, which came in Game 2 at Miami and that game was close late in the third quarter too," David says.

This will be the third Game 7 of this postseason after Chicago knocked off Brooklyn in the first round and Miami eliminated Indiana in the conference finals. The Spurs are playing in their first Game 7 since downing the Hornets on the road in the 2008 conference semifinals, while the Heat have won four of six home games in franchise history in Game 7. Home teams have compiled an impressive 90-23 (79%) record all-time in Game 7 playoff history in the NBA.

From the totals perspective, David provides his condolences for 'under' backers in Game 6, "As bad as I felt for bettors who had the Spurs on the money-line in Game 6, I'm going to extend my apologies for anybody who took the 'under' instead. The perfect combination of missed free throws and made 3-pointers set up the improbable extra session. Allen's late-game heroics not only help the game go 'over,' but it also cashed the second-half 'over' for bettors that we're chasing their total bets."

The total will still stay relatively in the same area for Thursday, "The number on Game 7 is hovering between 189 and 190 at most books. The 'over' has cashed in four straight games and it could easily be 6-0 in this series. At the same time, you can certainly argue that the total should be 3-3. If you watch and bet the Association daily, then you understand that it's a "Make or Miss" league. Both teams have great shooters and when they're on, they'll both bust triple digits easily. Prior to Game 6, San Antonio has never given up 100-plus in three straight games this season," David points out.

The Heat opened up as six-point favorites for Game 7, as the number has stayed pat through Wednesday. The final contest on the NBA season can be seen nationally at 9:00 PM EST on ABC.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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