The Miami Heat just suffered the most epic drubbing in NBA Finals history. Will this be enough to convince LeBron James to take his talents away from South Beach? The basketball odds don’t seem to think so.
Jason’s final record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14:
112-99-3 ATS (–1.51 units vig)
26-23-1 Totals (–0.21 units vig)
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
Profit: 4.09 units
Another NBA season in the books, another profitable year against the basketball betting lines. Unfortunately, the Miami Heat put a dent in that slim profit margin by honking the 2014 NBA Finals – I had the Heat at home in Games 3 and 4. In case you missed it while watching the hockey or the soccer, the San Antonio Spurs absolutely crushed the Heat in five games, as predicted by stat guru Kevin Pelton. Well done, sir.
This might have been the strangest NBA Finals ever. First there was the A/C failure in Game 1, then there were the interestingly timed Carmelo Anthony rumors that overshadowed the games themselves. But here’s the big takeaway: San Antonio dominated the Heat like never before, outscoring the defending champions by 70 points over the five-game series. The previous record was 63 points, held by the 1964-65 Boston Celtics in their five-game triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers. And yes, Kawhi Leonard was rightfully named Finals MVP. Well done, sir.
Naturally, everyone wants to know if this is it for LeBron James in Miami – with the underlying assumption that the party is over in South Beach. It could be. However, don’t pay too much attention to the Twitterazzi. The Heat did very well just to make the Finals for the fourth consecutive season. As for that epic drubbing, let’s take a moment to look at how well the Spurs shot from behind the arc during this series:
Game 1: 13-of-25 (52.0 percent)
Game 2: 12-of-26 (46.2 percent)
Game 3: 9-of-20 (45.0 percent)
Game 4: 9-of-21 (42.9 percent)
Game 5: 12-of-26 (46.2 percent)
That’s just ridiculous. Yes, the Spurs did a fantastic job of creating open looks with their passing game, and the Heat didn’t have their best defensive effort – Dwyane Wade in particular seemed to run out of gas as the playoffs wore on. But there’s not much any team can do when the other guys are hitting nearly half their 3-point attempts at such a high volume. So why would LeBron want to break up the band?
20 Million Reasons to Stay
Let’s step away from the hot takes for a moment and look at what James would be leaving behind. The Heat just made the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season. They only need a moderate amount of retooling to make it five, thanks to the anemic Eastern Conference. James could make more money in the short term by forgoing the last two years on his contract, but he’d have to find a team that can afford to pay him more than the $20.6 million he’s due in 2014-15. And that team would also have to have enough supplementary talent to compete for championships – which is where LeBron makes his “real” money, though endorsements.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. But you only have to take a look at the NBA futures market to see that James is very likely to stay in Miami. The Heat have opened as the favorites to recapture the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2015; Bodog and Bovada have them at 7-2, ahead of the Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder at 6-1. We’ll talk more about this as we consider the immediate future for the Big Three in South Beach. In the meantime, thank you very much for reading, and stick around for the summer as we prepare for what should be another great season of NBA betting.