record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to June 11 inclusive:
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
That wasn’t in the script. The Miami Heat looked like they were ready to come home and put some hurt on the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Instead, the Spurs (+4) might as well have worn their old fiesta colors, because they played a tune on the Heat in the first quarter, scoring 41 points en route to a 111-92 victory. It’s not easy to beat the basketball lines when the other team hits 19 of its first 21 shots.
The Heat better have short memories, because Thursday’s Game 4 (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC) is coming up quickly. Our very early NBA odds have Miami favored by 4.5 points this time, with the total increasing to 200, up from 198 in Game 3. Most of the initial action appears to be on the Heat and the OVER as we go to press. Should you take the requisite favorite-OVER parlay? Or has Miami’s championship run finally hit the wall?
The NBA Finals have been played since 1947, and no team has ever donp what the Spurs were able to accomplish Tuesday night. They set a Finals record by shooting 76 percent (25-for-33) in the first half, led by Kawhi Leonard (18 points, 6-for-7) and Danny Green (13 points, 6-for-6). Leonard finished the night with a game-high 29 points, and at the other end, he held LeBron James to a game-low minus-21. Madness~!
There’s not much more James and the Heat could have done. There will be some emphasis on the 20 turnovers they committed – seven of those by King James. But Miami still had a very efficient night on offense, hitting 32-for-62 (51.6 percent) from the floor and 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) from long range. James had 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting; Dwyane Wade added 22 points of his own on 8-for-12 from the field, and Rashard Lewis turned the clock back again at power forward, canning four of his five trey attempts to finish with 14 points. It’s not very often Miami loses with that kind of production. Tuesday was one of those nights.
Blame It on Rio
There are still a couple of things about the Heat right now that have to cause them concern. First and foremost: Mario Chalmers. He had his second bad game of the Finals, missing all five of his shots and getting into foul trouble again. Norris Cole (eight points, 3-for-9) didn’t seem to have the answer, either. Miami went without a traditional point guard down the stretch, but the lead only ballooned after shrinking to seven points late in the third quarter.
Heat fans should also be worried about how short the bench is becoming. Miami spent almost the entire game going just eight-deep; Shane Battier, James Jones and Udonis Haslem each had to settle for two minutes of burn. This might not seem like such of a problem now that Lewis and Chris Bosh (nine points, 4-for-4, including 1-for-1 from downtown) are both hitting threes, but Miami needs more options to counter San Antonio’s depth. I don’t want to waste too much virtual ink on Michael Beasley here – suffice to say that he exists.
As for ye olde NBA picks, you can haul out the zigzag pattern, you can talk regression to the mean, and it all points at betting on the Heat. But what if the Spurs don’t regress? Then you just have to tip your hat and give them the Larry O’Brien Trophy – with Leonard as the Finals MVP.
NBA Pick for Game 4: Take the Heat –4 (–118) at SBOBET