It’s not official by any means, but Tony Parker is expected to be healthy enough to play for the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. And once again, the NBA lines are moving the wrong way in response.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to June 3 inclusive:
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
Did you hear the one about San Antonio Spurs PG Tony Parker maybe missing Game 1 of the NBA Finals? He still might, but the San Antonio Express-News has quoted a source that says Parker “absolutely” will be ready for Thursday’s series opener against the Miami Heat. And wouldn’t you know it, the NBA lines have moved back from San Antonio –3.5 to San Antonio –4. You do the hokey pokey, and you turn yourself about.
We’ve already pointed out that the Spurs are 11-3 SU and 9-5 ATS this year without Parker in the lineup, so now that he’s back in (presumably) and the betting public’s fears have been soothed, perhaps we should move our NBA betting needle closer to Miami. Good thing we’ve got plenty of time before we have to decide. We should have more concrete information on Parker’s status well before placing our Game 1 picks.
Silver and Bible Black
Now that we’ve had a couple of days since the Spurs eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, we’re getting a clearer picture of what’s happening with the NBA betting market for Game 1. Our consensus reports have San Antonio holding pretty steady at 57 percent consensus at its new, higher price. However, it’s the Heat who are getting 56 percent support on the moneyline at +160. As for the NBA totals, the OVER has taken its customary lead with 59 percent of bettors choosing OVER 198.5.
While it’s a bit strange to see San Antonio playing the role of fan favorite, there’s still plenty of hatred for the Heat out there. The very unofficial ESPN SportsNation poll on who will win the NBA Finals has 54 percent of about 300,000 respondents picking the Spurs. But it’s not only the general public; famed stathead Kevin Pelton (the man behind WARP) thinks San Antonio’s superior regular season record and defensive efficiency numbers add up to a 4-1 series win:
Spurs: 62-20 SU, 100.1 points allowed per 100 possessions (No. 4 overall)
Heat: 54-28 SU, 102.9 points allowed per 100 possessions (No. 11 overall)
Of course, the problem with these numbers (as Pelton acknowledges) is that Miami clearly didn’t give it the proverbial 110 percent during the regular season. Dwyane Wade (22.0 PER) only played 54 games, but thanks in large part to that rest, Wade had his most efficient season as a shooter, posting a 54.5 field-goal percentage. Miami is 12-3 SU and 10-5 ATS in these playoffs with Wade and his teammates playing for realsies.
Poultry in Motion
Miami supporters had their feathers ruffled on Monday when Chris Andersen (18.5 PER) didn’t put in a full practice with the Heat. This was probably just a precautionary measure; Andersen is coming back from a thigh bruise that cost him two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. He still got some work in with the team on Monday, and he’s still listed as probable for Thursday (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC).
One other tidbit from Monday’s news: USA Today is reporting that Shane Battier (8.7 PER) is set to retire at the end of the Finals and take a job with ESPN as a college basketball analyst. Battier had said before the playoffs that it would take an “act of God” to prevent him from retiring this year. He’s fallen to No. 9 in minutes played for Miami this postseason, although Battier did get the starting nod in the second round against the Brooklyn Nets. Don’t be surprised if he goes out in style – Battier shot 6-of-8 from downtown in last year’s Game 7 against the Spurs.