After a ten day layoff following their series sweep against the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs picked up right where they left off and once again proved wrong the adage that long periods of rest are a detriment to a team’s momentum.
In fact, in the case of game one of the NBA Finals, it was this rest that paid off for the Spurs as it was clear their opponent, the Miami Heat, began to run out of energy down the stretch, having just come off a series where they were taken to the wire against the Indiana Pacers.
As the Heat ran out of steam, the veteran Spurs maintained the classic poise they had all season and narrowly defeated Miami by a score of 92-88. Miami actually had a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter but it was in the fourth where San Antonio took charge, outscoring the Heat by seven points.
Bettors who favored the Spurs cashed in as the Spurs victory actually didn’t come as a surprise. As road underdogs, the Spurs have been near unbeatable this season. When underdogs in a spread of less than six points, the Spurs have been even better, going 7-1 both SU and ATS in these eight games.
Being a veteran team, the Spurs have benefited from the extra rest. While their offense was not clicking on all cylinders, point guard Tony Parker made a few clutch shots and top defender Tony Parker continued to destroy the 2013 postseason with 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in game one.
But the odds sill favor the Heat, who in the Chris Bosh-Dwayne Wade-Lebron James era had had experience in losing the first game of a playoff series. The good news for Miami is, in each of those series the Heat came back to win four in a row.
The series expects to be highly contested going forward and it should consist of a little more output from the offensive end. After all, the Spurs ranked fourth in the regular season with 103 points per game and the Heat ranked fifth with 102.9 per game.
For game two (on Sunday, 8 PM ET), the Spurs once again find themselves underdogs. At most firms, the spread favors the Heat by six points, but Bovada has the margin at just 5.5. The over/under is set at 187.5.
Either team could win the game and right now the Spurs have made a good case, at least early, that they could contest the series and potentially remain undefeated (currently 4-0) in the Tony Parker-Tim Duncan-Manu Ginobili finals era.
There’s Lebron James and Then There’s Lebron James
After leading his Miami team to victory over the Pacers, Lebron James, the league MVP, seemed to do what none of his teammates could and that is pick up where he left off. While he scored under his season average, James led all Heat players with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Yet even with a triple-double, it wasn’t enough for Miami to get the victory.
Why? Because once again, James’ supporting cast was nowhere to be found. Besides James’ 18, the rest of the Miami team was responsible for just 70 points in 60 minutes of play. Overall, the team minus Lebron was just 27-64 from the field. Lebron’s 16 defensive rebounds were also pretty much the only help the team got in this department as well. The next best was Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh, all with four.
So in a game where Lebron was to be fair, pretty average, the Heat lost. Because an average Lebron combined with virtually no help from anybody else, is not the formula that will lead Miami to success.
Have We Seen the Last of Dwayne Wade?
Technically, Dwayne Wade isn’t going anywhere. But considering the way his playoffs have gone so far, it is safe to say that at least in 2013 he can’t be counted on for production.
Yes Wade did score 14 on 15 shots, but he practically went cold in the second half. In a fourth quarter where the Heat managed just 16 points, Wade had zero, missing several important and decent looks he had at the basket.
As Lebron’s biggest role player, the Heat cannot afford for Wade to continue to run hot and cold like this. And the same goes for Chris Bosh. Against the Pacers, Miami might have been able to get by without consistent output from Bosh and Wade, but against a much better, smarter and craftier Spurs team, the outcome won’t be in the Heat’s favor.
Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan: The Real Big Three
Let’s compare “Big Threes” for a moment in the 2013 playoffs:
- Tim Duncan (37): 17.9 PPG, 9.5 REB, 1.8 BLK
- Tony Parker (31): 22.9 PPG, 7.1 AST, 1.3 STL
- Manu Ginobili (35) 11.6 PPG, 5.2 AST, 4.2 REB
- Lebron James (28): 25.7 PPG, 6.6 AST, 7.9 REB
- Chris Bosh (29): 12.3 PPG, 1.5 BLK, 6.5 REB
- Dwayne Wade (31): 14.3 PPG, 4.7 AST, 4.8 REB
While the stats do look pretty close overall, if you look at individual games, there are more that the Spurs big three have had an impact and more games in which each of the big three has contributed evenly to the team’s offensive and defensive output.
With the veteran Spurs, each player knows his role and knows how to effectively utilize the talents of his teammates as well. I think too often with the Heat, the ball ends up in Lebron’s hands because he is the superstar. Not that this is a bad thing, but think about it this way. It is a lot easier to guard one guy than it is to guard and stop three.
And right now, the Heat have been forced into this predicament while meanwhile the struggles of Bosh and Wade have not yet forced San Antonio into this style of defense.
The Spurs had the luxury in game one of being able to play their game at their pace and it worked to their favor. In an up tempo Heat offense, San Antonio’s age will hurt them ad put them at a disadvantage. So far however, the Spurs throughout the 2013 postseason, have done an excellent job at controlling pace and running their offense. Plus, it is hard to beat any team that commits just four total penalties in a 60 minute game.
Spurs at Miami Heat Game 2 Final Betting Pick
As much as it is hard to pick against the Spurs record when listed as underdogs, I can’t see the Heat falling into an 0-2 hole. Expect Lebron to take over the game early and get the Heat off to a quick lead en route to a decisive, but still close victory.