NBA Finals: Drinking the Haterade

Jason Lake

Saturday, June 7, 2014 3:21 PM GMT

We knew that the broken air conditioning would be the top NBA betting story coming out of Game 1 between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. We just didn’t know how stupid things would get.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to June 7 inclusive:

112-97-3 ATS

26-23-1 Totals

3-1 Series (+2.0 units)

When exactly was it that the NBA jumped the shark? The luxury tax? The vetoed Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers? The Smoothie King Center? Or perhaps it was Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals. Bad enough that the A/C conked out in San Antonio – intentionally or otherwise, you knew that everyone would be talking about it the next day. But who knew there’d be so many people, saying so many stupid things.

That’s why I love betting on the NBA so much. With each passing year in the march of human progress, you get more and more people who have the luxury of following sports and betting on NBA games. And thanks largely to social media and big data, we can see how truly dense many of these people are. Imagine being, say, LeBron James, but instead of the competition around you getting tougher every year, it gets easier. That’s what life is like for savvy contrarian bettors.

 

It's Got Electrolytes
According to the fine folks at Nielsen, Game 1 drew an average of 14.8 million TV viewers, and was the subject of 3.2 million tweets. But the aftermath didn’t reach peak Sharknado until the beverage companies got involved. After LeBron cramped up and had to leave the game, the Twappleverse naturally trolled the living bejeezus out of Gatorade. To which Gatorade responded, “The person cramping wasn’t our client. Our athletes can take the heat.” And “we were waiting on the sidelines, but he prefers to drink something else.”

Oh dear. Yes, King James does ads for Powerade (Coke). But Gatorade (Pepsi) has a huge sponsorship deal with the NBA, and because of that, LeBron is only allowed to drink water or Gatorade when he’s on the bench. He works around that by taking the label off the Gatorade bottle when he’s drinking from it. The company deleted its anti-James tweets and apologized. Also: Gatorade doesn’t prevent cramps. Those claims have yet to be retracted as we go to press.

 

At the Movies
James has confirmed that he “should be 100 percent” for Game 2 on Sunday (8:00 p.m. ET, ABC), and the Spurs say the air conditioning has been fixed, so let’s get our attention back on the NBA betting lines. If you were able to jump on the very early open with the Miami Heat at +6, you got yourself a bargain – most online sportsbooks opened at Miami +4 or +4.5. And just like they did in Game 1, the Spurs have been drawing about 56 percent consensus, pushing the spread to five points.

Because of Thursday night’s sweltering conditions, both teams decided spend Friday’s practice looking at film and talking about defense. Gregg Popovich wasn’t pleased with San Antonio’s performance in Game 1, pointing out how often Miami was able to get an open look. “There were about seven or eight wide-open threes they had that just didn’t go down,” Popovich told reporters. The Heat were still 12-for-29 (41.4 percent) from downtown.

At the other end, Erik Spoelstra was a bit more concerned about rim protection, even though the Spurs shot 13-for-25 (52 percent) from behind the arc. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter got all 16 of their combined shots in the paint, hitting 14 of them. This is the major drawback Miami faces by playing smallball; the reward comes on offense, where Chris Bosh can step back and hit those open threes that Popovich fears. Be prepared for plenty of adjustments and counter-adjustments come Sunday.