Golden State vs. Cleveland Could be Preview to NBA Finals

Most sportsbooks are calling the matchup on Thursday night in the NBA between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the most likely matchup for the NBA Finals this season

Most of the shops following the Derrick Rose injury this week, now consider Cleveland an even heavier favorite to win the Eastern Conference.

According to Bovada and, the Cavaliers are currently -180 to make the NBA Finals and Chicago had been dropped to +1500. Out West, Golden State is +220 to take that conference title.

A Finals pairing between the Cavaliers and Warriors is currently paying +250. The pairings next highest include Cleveland/Oklahoma City at +650, Cleveland/Memphis at +800 and Atlanta/Golden State at +1000.

That makes the game on Thursday in Cleveland even that more of a big deal.

If bookmakers are correct in this matchup between Cleveland and Golden State does end up being a preview to the championship, this game would be the only reference point for the matchup.

The first head-to-head game between the two teams cannot be used as a comparison since star forward LeBron James did not play for Cleveland.

Golden State was victorious in that game 112-94. Golden State enjoyed an edge of 36-3 in points on the fast break and recorded 35 assists on 43 field goals.

The loss at the time was Cleveland’s fourth straight and the Cavs would eventually lose six straight. However, since James returned from two weeks on the sideline Cleveland is 17-2.

Nevertheless, Golden State is 21-5 over its past 26 games overall and has won 16 of 19 games against Eastern Conference opponents.

One the MVP front, Stephen Curry remains at -300, the overwhelming favorite. James is third at +500, with Houston’s James Harden sitting second at +350 and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in fourth at +1000.

With the consistency Curry has played with all season and the way his team had taken the West by storm and leading the NBA with the best record overall, it will be hard to un-seed him from the top.

Curry scored 51 points on February 4 and is averaging 28 points per game during the month. He scored 32 on Tuesday night after sitting out a game over the weekend with a sore ankle.

Kyrie Irving is a great defender for Cleveland, but Curry was not fazed the first time they met this season as he scored 23 points, had 10 assists and just one turnover.

New NBA Championship Futures See Thunder Rise and Heat and Suns Fall

Odds makers have released the latest futures for the NBA Championship. The Oklahoma City Thunder are playing so well the team has moved into third on the odds board, while teams such as the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns are rapidly going in the other direction.

Only a week ago, the Thunder was sitting in seventh place on the odds board, but has seen their odds shortened to 60 to 1, which is down from last week’s 12 to 1.

The odds makers are showing a great deal of respect to the Thunder, despite the team holding down only the eighth and final postseason spot in the NBA Western Conference. However, the Thunder has won 7 straight games including wins over the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Clippers last week and picked up three players on the trade deadline to add to their roster.

The futures odds shortened for the Thunder even despite the lingering concerns over the health of Kevin Durant who had what was described as a minor procedure to ease some discomfort on his right foot. The soreness has come from surgery Durant had on his foot in October. It is thought Durant will return prior to the end of the regular season.

Amongst the teams in a free fall of sorts this week on the boards is the Heat. After receiving Goran Dragic in a trade last week, the starting five for Miami looked strong. However, the next day, Chris Bosh was lost for the season with blood clots. Without the best player on the Heat, their odds of winning the NBA title fell to 300 to 1 from last week’s 100 to 1. The Phoenix Suns have lost five straight games and 8 of their past 10 to fall out of the eighth spot in the West and into 10th. The Suns also dropped to 300 to 1 from 100 to 1 last week.


American Basketball Coaches Should Take Note of Spurs’ International Flare

The Spurs' style of play had a strong international presence and that wasn't by chance.

I completely understand the dangers of the classic “ifs and buts” scenario but bear with me for a moment. The San Antonio Spurs were basically a few missed free throws in game six last year and a few missed free throws from game two this season from having both six titles and a sweep of the Miami.

Instead, the Spurs will have to settle for their fifth title in 15 years and while the argument over whether or not they are a “dynasty” can be had from all sides the bigger statement is in how this team won.

Since the rise of AAU programs across the country, basketball in the United States has become less about ‘team play’ and more about showcasing individual talent. Both college programs and the National Basketball Association have been impacted by this trend. If you talk to people who were fans of the NBA in the 1980’s and 1990’s but no longer call themselves fans, they’ll tell you the style of play is one of the biggest factors.

NBA offenses have become nothing more than isolation plays and pick and roll situations. The Spurs effectively destroyed this notion in this year’s Finals and there is no question that the international presence on the roster influenced their ‘team play.’

Frenchman Boris Diaw had a significant impact on the Spurs' title run this year.

Manu Ginobili is from Argentina. Boris Diaw and Tony Parker are from France. Paddy Mills is from Australia and Tiago Splitter is from Brazil. If you want to stretch things a bit, even Tim Duncan was born off the mainland in the US Virgin Islands. Duncan grew up thinking he would be a competitive swimmer rather than a basketball player.

It’s no mistake therefore that the style of play deployed by Spurs’ Coach Gregg Popovich was one with a tremendous international flavor. The game overseas relies less on individual talent and isolation-type plays and more on movement of the ball. The idea is really quite simple; movement of the ball forces the the opposition to actually ‘play defense’ rather than stand on one side of the court and watch four players go at it in a two-on-two game.

The idea also emphasizes looking for a ‘good’ shot and moving the ball to the point of where you find a ‘better’ shot. If the movie ‘Hoosiers’ comes to mind then that’s good because that’s the way basketball was supposed to be played offensively.

What Popovich and the Spurs have done is revolutionized scouting in the NBA and it’s hard to find fault with its’ success. They seek out talent on foreign shores and they mix that talent with solid, team-oriented American players to get the results they have had over the last 15 years. The roots of this idea go back to the 1980’s.

American basketball was the dominant force in international hoops play. Our collegiate players were better both athletically and skillfully through the decades of international play but then foreign countries caught up and in the late 1980’s our collegians were no longer good enough to bring home Olympic gold every four years.

That’s when the ‘Dream Team’ was born and since our pro players have been manning the Olympic team, we have not lost gold but with every passing Olympic Games, foreign teams get closer and closer and that’s because their athleticism is catching up with ours as many of their players now play in the NBA.

It’s my hope that high school and AAU teams have paid attention to this Spurs’ team because this is the wave of the future and if the American players don’t catch on it will be the 1980’s all over again.

Weekend Ramblings: The Open Isn’t Over and Can LeBron Do It?

Kaymer won the PGA Title in 2010 and he'll need that experience to close out the US Open today.

As is it’s usual custom, the US Open will conclude on Father’s Day. While the final round of the nation’s championship has brought us tremendous finishes over the years, this year’s version of the “World’s Toughest Golf Tournament” is shaping up to be anything but dramatic.

Germany’s Martin Kaymer stormed to monstrous lead shooting back-to-back 65’s on the par 70 Pinehurst #2 course. He entered the third round with an eight shot lead and essentially needed to just shoot par in order to head into today’s final round with a large enough cushion for him not to sweat the competition.

Kaymer ended up his third round with a two over par 72 but still has a five shot lead entering the final 18 holes today. In most situations, I’d say this tournament is over and we can hand Kaymer the trophy and $1.5 million dollars right now. That said, I just don’t have that feeling.

There are five players under par trailing Kaymer and of those I like to pressure him are Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson who are both at -2. Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton are both at -3 but I think the experience of Stenson and Snedeker will provide them with the best opportunities of catching Kaymer.

In yesterday’s third round, Kaymer entered with just one bogey in the tournament and left the third round with a total of six. That shows a bit of vulnerability, but Kaymer has history on his side. Only one player in US Open history has ever lost a five stroke lead and that was Mike Brady (no, not the one from the ‘Brady Bunch’) in 1919.

The pressure of winning a major tournament is immense but some would argue that doing so with such a big lead makes the pressure even more intense. I think Kaymer will hang on today but don’t be a bit surprised if at any point someone closes to within a shot or two.

The only way the Heat come back will be on the back of LeBron James.

LeBron’s Biggest Moment?

Fair or unfair, LeBron James has been and always will be compared to Michael Jordan. It’s the impossible ghost that James will never catch in my opinion at least in terms of championships. Even if James does get to the magical number of six, the argument will be that he needed Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to do so while Jordan had much less talent around him.

LeBron has already lost two times in the NBA Finals. His first was in Cleveland when he willed the Cavaliers to the Finals where they were swept by San Antonio. The other time was in the first year of the Big Three when they were beaten by the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan was of course six for six in his Finals’ appearances.

James now sits on the precipice of a third loss in the NBA Finals as his Heat trail the Spurs 3-1. There is as much talk about LeBron’s future right now if not more, than about the actual Finals themselves. While that isn’t fair to James he knows as well as anyone that is just how the system works these days.

If Miami is to get back in this series it will be on the back of LeBron James. Will he have to do it all? No, but he might as well. I think we are talking about games where James has to score 35 plus points, grab seven or more rebounds and dish out four or more assists. In my mind those are minimum-type numbers.

If James can bring the Heat back to win the title (teams down 3-1 in the Finals are 0-31) then his star will rise to Jordan-esque proportions. If he can’t, the same old comparisons will continue fair or not.


Heat are 6-point road ‘dogs in First Elimination Game

The 2013-14 NBA season could come to an end tonight when the San Antonio Spurs host the Miami Heat. The Spurs lead the best of seven NBA Finals 3-1 and could close out the series with a win tonight in Game 5.

A win would give the Spurs their fifth NBA title as a franchise and their first since 2007.

Miami finds themselves up against history. No team in the NBA has come back from a deficit of 3-1 in the NBA finals to win.

Miami is a road dog of 6 points in Games 5. The point total opened at 195, but has been bet up to 196 on Bovada and

The series odds on betonline and topbet now have San Antonio at -2000 and Miami at +1000.

San Antonio took control of the best of seven series with two blowout wins on the road in Games 3 and 4 winning 111-92 and 107-86 respectively.

The Spurs have used excellent ball movement on offense that has been helped by the Miami defense not showing up to play in either of the past two games.

The OVER has cashed in 2 of the 4 games, with the Spurs averaging 106 points per game and Miami only 93.

The Spurs are 12-4 SU as well as ATS over their past 16 games after beginning the postseason 3-3 straight up and 0-6 against the number.

Miami over its past six games is 2-4 SU as well as ATS. The Heat started its postseason 11-2 straight up and 9-4 against the spread.

Miami will use the age-old adage one game at a time for Sunday’s game, hoping to win and force a home game on Tuesday in Game 6.

Miami looks like it is running on an empty tank and the extra day of rest could help the club.

LeBron James could and likely will face criticism if the Heat loses the series. However, he has scored 27 points per game and has been asked to put the team on his shoulders again as the other two in the Big Three Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have lacked consistency.

Prior to losing Game 2 to Miami, the Spurs were 8-0 SU as well as ATS at home in the postseason.

Boris Diaw has been a key for San Antonio in this series. The move by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to start Diaw in Game 3 has changed the entire series. Diaw is a great passer on the inside.

The Heat has never been a ‘dog by 6 points this entire season.

Miami is looking for answers to their best player rotation and changes in their starting lineup and substitutes are likely in Game 5.

This game could be slowed down by the Heat with physical play coming into play, as Miami will look to rattle the Spurs and upset them, as they have not been successful in playing them straight up.

I like the Spurs to win their fifth title tonight.

Spurs Look to Close Out the Heat Tomorrow Night in Texas

LeBron and Wade
LeBron and Wade
Could tonight be the end of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade or will they force a game six back home?

I can’t recall the last series I’ve been so wrong about. I’m pretty sure that every one of the first four games of the NBA Finals I’ve had completely wrong. Therefore, you should probably do the exact opposite of what I’m about to suggest for tomorrow night.

Miami at San Antonio (-6), Spurs lead series 3-1 – Of all the games I’ve been the most wrong about game four takes the cake. There was no way I saw the Miami Heat, who had lost game three on their home-court, losing again. Remember this was a team that just didn’t lose back-to-back games and especially in the playoffs.

The entered game four with the third-longest streak of not losing back-to-back playoff games in league history. They trailed only the Jordan-Era Bulls and the dynastic Celtics of the 1960’s.

We can throw those stats and numbers out the window now because LeBron James and company are now hanging on for dear life. Watching San Antonio dismantle the Miami defense the other night was a thing of beauty. It’s what basketball was supposed to be when Dr.James Naismith invented it. Passing and moving the ball among all five players on the court was like art work being performed by the Spurs.

In an era of “let the best player go one-on-one off a screen,” San Antonio displayed everything that was good about offensive basketball. So impressive was the Spurs’ game four win that every player on the team scored. Knowing that bench scoring had been issue, Miami actually scored 30 points in that department. Still, San Antonio was better scoring 41 off of the pine.

Miami had done a decent job of battling San Antonio in the paint as well but that stat was blown up too. The Spurs dominated 46-30 in the key and while playing solid defense at the other end as well.

Manu Ginobili has been a lightning rod for the Spurs despite not scoring a lot of points.

If you need any further demonstration of the ‘team aspect’ of the Spurs than look no further than Manu Ginobili. The Argentinian scored just seven points but he had a whopping +27 for the game which illustrates the energy and intensity he and his teammates brought to the floor.

Short of LeBron James going off for a 40-point night tomorrow, I just don’t see how this team survives the balanced Spurs in game five. Dwyane Wade has been accused of looking tired and perhaps he is, but I think it has more to do with his nagging knees. Chris Bosh has disappeared for the most part and the role players like Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers have been neutralized.

It would be incredibly easy to blame some of the on-court issues of the Heat on the off-court topics that are being discussed but I guarantee the players wouldn’t use that excuse. Still, it must be difficult knowing the media is more interested in where LeBron will play in the fall and whether Carmelo Anthony is joining the Big Three in Miami.

I really, really want to take Miami to win this because if they do I believe this goes to a game seven where anything can happen but I can’t.The Spurs have been too good and too balanced at both ends and there has only been one close game in this series and that was Miami’s two-point win in game two. Take the Spurs to cover tomorrow night and I like the OVER. The O/U is at 196 by the way.

Keep an eye on… Miami is 4-16 straight up in its last 20 games when playing on the road against San Antonio… The total has gone UNDER in four of San Antonio’s last six games at home… Miami is 6-13-1 against the spread in its last 20 games when playing on the road against San Antonio… San Antonio is 9-1 straight up in its last 10 games at home.

Must-Win for the Heat in Game Four?

Kawhi Leonard was a beast in game three but can he follow that up in game four?

If you follow trends, then all you need to know is that in the era of the ‘big three’ in Miami, they have won 13 straight games following a loss.  Last year in this same situation, the Heat followed a blowout loss to San Antonio with a big win of their own. Therefore, I really don’t need to go any further here do I?

Of course I do especially after I was dead wrong about game three. While I thought Kawhi Leonard was due for a big game I still thought the Heat would be happy to be home and would get the win. Such is life in the betting community.

On to game four…

San Antonio at Miami (-5), Spurs lead 2-1 – Sometimes there are few answers to seemingly easy questions. That must have been how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra must have felt during the first half of game three. While watching the Spurs shot 76%, Spoelstra knew his team had to play better defense but it wasn’t that bad.

I expect Chris Bosh to bounce back and have big game tonight.

The Spurs were just flat-out draining everything whether the Heat were playing solid defense on them or not. A closer look at game three though reveals some things were just not happening for the Heat that should have been. Chris Bosh was a non-factor while Mario Chalmers continues to struggle with his shooting and overall game.

As poorly as Miami played, they had the Spurs ‘ lead cut to seven in the fourth quarter and a victory would have been one of the great all-time comebacks in NBA Finals’ history. The Heat have to hang their hat on that because there’s no way they’ll play that poorly tonight.

We must give credit where it is due and that means crediting Gregg Popovich and the adjustments he made. It certainly helps when Kawhi Leonard is aggressive at both ends of the floor and hits for a career high in points. His defense on LeBron James may have been just as important though as he gave James little space with which to operate.

Popovich also started Boris Diaw in place of Tiago Splitter and that move paid big dividends as the Spurs’ were much more successful on the offensive end of the court with Diaw in the game. How Spoelstra counters this will be one of the keys for tonight.

It would be very easy for me to just settle on trends that clearly favor Miami. Twice the Heat and the ‘big three’ have faced 2-1 deficits and in both cases they went on to win the series. I’m not just going to rely on trends though because there is no way LeBron is going to follow up a very pedestrian game with another one.

I expect James to go for at least 30 points tonight but I also expect five or more assists and several of those will go to Chris Bosh who has to be more of a factor and he will be. This isn’t to say the Spurs can’t win this game because they most certainly can but this really is a must-win for Miami. If they go down 3-1, they would be facing a situation where they’d have to win three straight including two in San Antonio.

I like Miami to cover tonight and I also like the OVER which currently sits at 197.

Keep an eye on… San Antonio is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games on the road… Miami is 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games when playing at home against San Antonio… San Antonio is 4-1 straight up in its last five games… The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Miami’s last 23 games when playing at home against San Antonio.

Game Three Up Tonight in the NBA Finals

Parker and LeBron
Parker and LeBron
With LeBron James guarding Tony Parker, the Spurs will need to adjust things offensively.

To no one’s surprise the Miami Heat evened the NBA Finals with San Antonio at one game apiece. Only the 1990’s Chicago Bulls and the great Boston Celtics’ teams of the 1960’s have gone more NBA Playoff games without losing back-to-back games. Despite the loss, the Spurs actually played pretty well but they are still not getting consistency from certain players to make the difference.

Game three is tonight on South Beach and teams that win game three in a series tied at one go on to win about 80% of the time. That said, San Antonio followed this script last season but still lost. Will San Antonio follow the same plan? Lets find out.

San Antonio at Miami (-4.5), Series tied 1-1 – According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and numerous other sources, LeBron James was seething in the hours following game one. According to Windhorst, James got very little sleep and it wasn’t due to the cramps he suffered from the day prior. Apparently James was incensed that people would question his toughness and physical stamina after he was forced to leave the game in which the Spurs went on to win.

It was that type of motivation in mind that left me with no other path but to believe that James would come out roaring in game two. I was only kind of right as James scored just two points in the opening stanza. He would however go on to score 35 total and assisted on the key basket to clinch the game.

With the issues of game one now in the past, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has work to do. First and foremost he has to address the team’s offensive gameplan since LeBron guarded Tony Parker in a very calculated move to disrupt the San Antonio offense. Popovich should be able re-position guys on the floor and force LeBron back down but they may only work if the Spurs are hitting open outside shots.

The Spurs could use more consistency from Kawhi Leonard at both ends of the court.

Coming off of game one, there were a couple of areas that I thought the Heat needed to address. They were outscored 34-20 in bench points in game one and I thought that needed to change. It changed alright but for the worse as the Spurs bench outscored Miami 37-12. While I still feel this is a factor in the series it obviously wasn’t in game two.

Points in the paint was another area the Heat had to change and in this case they did. Miami outscored the Spurs 44-34 and ultimately that was the difference in the game.

To this point, Popovich is getting good performances from Tim Duncan and Tony Parker but he needs more from guys like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. They combined for 18 points in game two but are not consistently threats. That has to change.

The Spurs need to stop shooting themselves in the foot at the free throw line. They were just 12 of 20 for a horrid 60% and hitting just three more of those gives them a 2-0 lead.

A lot of things point to a Spurs win tonight but I’m not going there. I think the starters for Miami will score enough and the bench will provide just enough in the way of rebounding and a few points here and there. Until Duncan and some other Spurs show themselves in the fourth quarter my confidence in them is waning. Take Miami to cover and I love the OVER here which is set at 198.

Keep an eye on… San Antonio is 10-4 straight up in its last 14 games… Miami is 13-4 straight up in its last 17 games… San Antonio is 2-7 against the spread in its last nine games on the road… The total has gone OVER in seven of Miami’s last eight games at home.

Spurs and Heat Reduced to Best of Five with Series Even at 1-1

The NBA Finals are tied at 1-1 after the Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night in a thriller 98-96.

Last season the Spurs missed a few free throws that likely cost them the NBA title. Déjà vu reared its ugly head on Sunday when a few more misses from the free throw line by two of their top players likely was the difference from being up 2-0 to the reality of being tied 1-1 heading to Miami for Games 3 and 4.

The Spurs had good games from their top players with Tony Parker scoring 21 and Tim Duncan hitting for 18, but the two missed all four of their attempts from the charity stripe in a critical period during the final quarter.

LeBron James recovered from his leg cramps to score 35 for the Heat.

The two teams play Game 3 on Tuesday at American Airlines Arena in south Florida.

Last season Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili missed some costly shots in Game 6 of the NBA Finals that allowed Miami to overcome a 5-point deficit with just 28 second left to send the game to overtime and then win it.

This 0 for 4 at the free throw line did not take place in such a dramatic fashion but the outcome was as costly.

The early line on Bovada and for Game 3 in Miami has the Heat favored by 4.5. On topbet and betonline, the point total for the overall under opened at 198.5.

Prior to the loss on Sunday, the Spurs had won 8 consecutive home games during the playoffs, with all coming by 15 points or more, but everything comes to an end.

Without much time to regroup or to practice foul shots, the Spurs will head to Miami on Monday for Tuesday’s game.

Do not expect the air conditioning to go out in Miami or any other strange phenomenon taking place. What you can expect is some of the best, intense back and forth play from what are arguably the two best teams in the NBA.

James was able to show all basketball fans and in particular the ones at the AT&T Center in San Antonio why he is the best player in the NBA.

In a short span of three straight Miami possessions during the third quarter on Sunday, James by himself reduced a six-point Spurs lead to a Heat 2-point advantage.

James started the offensive display with a 3-pointer from the left side of the foul line, followed a San Antonio miss with a jumper over Boris Diaw and  followed a second San Antonio miss with another 3-pointer in transition. The result was an 8-0 Miami run and a two-point Heat lead.

Now the series is the best of five with Miami holding the home court advantage, let’s see how San Antonio reacts on Tuesday.

Heat Look to Even Things Up Tonight in Texas

Chris 'Birdman' Andersen has to contribute more to even the bench discrepancy against the Spurs.

I would really like to do my best to focus on the basketball rather than LeBron James’ cramping problems but that will be hard to avoid because his absence made a significant difference in the outcome of game one. That said, every player on the floor had to deal with the 90 degree conditions so using that as an excuse will not fly with me.

Hopefully game two is less dramatic in terms of anything other than basketball. Let’s discuss it…

Miami at San Antonio (-4.5), Spurs Lead 1-0 – I’m throwing this out there right now; I fully expect LeBron James to have a monster game tonight in game two. The consistently negative attention, social media mockery and overall questioning of his mental and physical toughness will motivate him to a huge performance. Whether that will lead the Heat to a victory or not is uncertain, but I like him having a big night.

I look for LeBron to have a monster game tonight in game two.

Two interesting stats that came out of the Spurs’ game one victory were points in the paint and fast break points. San Antonio outscored the Heat 48-36 in the paint which isn’t totally shocking but the fact they also outscored Miami in fast break points, 20-19, was a little more unexpected. The Heat is not used to losing the stat but the Spurs tend to get back on defense as well as any team.

One particular area where the Spurs were expected to dominate and did was in bench scoring. San Antonio outscored Miami 34-20 in bench points and with the Spurs being the deeper team this isn’t surprising. Guys like Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen and Shane Battier need to assist Ray Allen who was the only bench player in double-figures in game one. The Heat needs to find more scoring and rebounding in game two.

Another area I would look for the Heat to address is getting to the free throw line more often. In game one, they took just 11 free throws, making nine and that just isn’t going to do it. When this type of thing happened in the Eastern Conference Finals, the following game always saw Miami get to the free throw line much more often.

The rule of thumb in the NBA Playoffs is that the home team is going to get the bulk of the 50-50 calls and that’s held pretty true so far in these playoffs. That said, officials also reward teams that are aggressive and I have every expectation that will be the Heat tonight.

If you’re looking for the one stat that will force your hand in wagering today than look no further than this one; during the era of the big three, the Heat is 5-0 following game one losses in the playoffs. Consider also that teams in the NBA that take 2-0 leads in the NBA Finals go on to win 90% of the time.

The over/under tonight is 199 and I like the over with Miami needing a big performance being the motivating factor. I also like Miami getting the points. Remember also that the NBA Finals no longer has the 2-3-2 format so game five will be back in San Antonio. The change could be a significant factor in this series.

Keep an eye on… Miami is 2-4 against the spread in its last six games when playing San Antonio… San Antonio is 10-3 straight up in its last 13 games… Miami is 3-16 straight up in its last 19 games when playing on the road against San Antonio… The total has gone OVER in four of San Antonio’s last five games when playing at home against Miami.