Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to June 5 inclusive:
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
Another day, another batch of supporters for the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve moved the basketball lines yet again for Thursday’s NBA Finals opener (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC) against the Miami Heat; as we go to press, San Antonio is a 4.5-point home favorite, up from –4 when we last checked in on the Western Conference champions. Our consensus reports show 57 percent of bettors siding with the Spurs, holding steady from Sunday’s open.
On the flip side, the Heat are still the choice of 56 percent of bettors on the moneyline, this time at +175. And we’ve also got 56 percent support for the OVER on a total of 198.5 points that hasn’t moved since the open. We’ll see if that changes as more people open their wallets and/or purses closer to Friday’s tip-off.
These NBA odds could be moving in response to the continuing reports on Tony Parker (18.9 PER), who didn’t appear to have any trouble planting on his left foot during Wednesday’s practice. It’s a virtual certainty he’ll start Game 1; in last year’s Finals, Parker led all Spurs scorers with 21 points in a 92-88 victory, cashing in San Antonio as a 5-point road dog. It was the first time in six years that the favorite didn’t cover the Finals opener.
It’s assumed that Chris Andersen (18.5 PER) will play in Game 1, as well. There was no news on his thigh bruise during Wednesday’s Media Day. Andersen’s only encounter of note, if you watch the talk shows, was with Jimmy Kimmel’s sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez. He wanted to touch Andersen’s hair. He was denied. This is the kind of in-depth reportage you can only get at Media Day. Okay, and every other day of the year.
Yesterday, it was the Miami Heat deflecting questions about what will happen with the Big Three after the Finals are over. Now it’s Tim Duncan’s turn. Asked when he was thinking about retiring, Duncan (21.3 PER) said it “will happen when it happens. I’ll feel it and I’ll know it and I’ll call it a day.” Doesn’t sound like someone who’s ready to hang ‘em up just yet. And why would he, with another year left on his contract? Parker and Manu Ginobili (20.0 PER) also have one more year to go in San Antonio if they want it.
The Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich have done a tremendous job managing the minutes for their veteran players, with Duncan (age 38) and Ginobili (age 36) both playing at an All-Star level while remaining fresh for the postseason. If this version of the Big Three can win the title this year, they’ll become the first trio outside of the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics to collect four championship rings together. Duncan would also become the second player (after John Salley) to win titles in three different decades.
The Heat are making some history this week, too. They’re the first team to appear in four consecutive NBA Finals since the 1984-87 Boston Celtics. Of course, that’s a direct result of LeBron James (29.3 PER) and Chris Bosh (19.0 PER) deciding to join Dwyane Wade (22.0 PER) in South Beach. James and Bosh are about to become the first players since Bob McAdoo (1982-85 Lakers) and Dennis Johnson (1984-87 Celtics) to make it to the Finals in each of their first four seasons with an NBA team. How about No. 5? You gotta make the good times last.