Tony Parker Banged Up Again After Series Win
Just like after the series versus Portland, Tony Parker is hurting heading into the Finals. He sprained his ankle in Game 4 of the series against the Thunder, and it got progressively worse through Games 5 and 6. He was forced to sit out the second half and overtime of Game 6, and despite the Spurs’ win, the cloud over them is noticeable. The NBA Odds however still have the Spurs as favorites in Game 1 at -3 ½, with a total of 198 ½.
Just like after the Portland series, Parker has four full days rest to recover from his injury before Thursday night’s Game 1, however this ankle injury seems to be more serious than the hamstring strain he suffered in the second round. It was reported on Monday morning that he is going to start Game 1, but we won’t know more about it until Tuesday’s press conference. As long as Parker is good to go, the Spurs’ offense is looking more diverse and deeper than last year’s team. The Spurs could very well be playing coy with Parker and he could be fine. With the Spurs, nothing surprises me. Parker did came back in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals after four days off and had 14 points and 12 assists.
Last Year Versus this One
There will be a lot of comparisons made from this Spurs team to last years, as well as this year’s Heat versus the 2013 version. For Miami, they are down Mike Miller one of their better three point shooters from last season, and they are visibly not the same Heat team that raddled off 27 straight wins. The Spurs on the other hand have a healthy Manu Ginobli, and somewhat healthy Parker, and two big additions in the backcourt in Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills.
This lengthens Gregg Popovich’s bench a lot, especially if Parker is ineffective off of his injury. The Spurs could go with Ginobli more, along with Belinelli filling in for Manu’s role, and Mills providing good shooting and ball handling at the point.
The Heat on the other hand are relying more on their Big Three than they were last season. Ray Allen looks to finally be slowing some, and even though he has been good in the playoffs, Dwyane Wade is one year older just like the Spurs’ veterans. Last season the Heat could not combat the Spurs’ size, and Tim Duncan owned Chris Bosh. For this first game against one another, the offense could flourish.
The Sharp Pick
Last season all three games that were in San Antonio went over the total, and I could see that same kind offensive pace. The Heat seem to play up in pace more on the road, and they are playing up in pace a lot in these playoffs. Overall in the playoffs, the Heat are 11-4 cashing the over, and on the road they should give up some points to the Spurs.
Overall, this series is going to come down to defense, but these two teams like to feel their opponents out some, and keep their cards as close to the chest as possible. I expect it to translate into a little more offense upfront, before a big shift to defense later in the series. For that I think the over is the play here in Game 1.
My Pick: OVER 198 ½