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Thursday, 5 June 2014

NBA Finals 2014 (June 5-20)









NBA Finals 2014: San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat
Lets face facts- this was the NBA Finals that everyone wanted to see again after the classic Finals of 2013 which had a number of crazy finished, none more so than that Game Six that has bothered the San Antonio Spurs very much over the last twelve months.

Tim Duncan basically said as much when describing how keen he is for this series, but I also think that comes from the fact that the San Antonio Spurs look a better team this time around than last year, even with the 'Big Three' a year older.

There is a lot of depth in the rotation, while having home court advantage through the series may prove pivotal, even if the Finals have gone back to a 2-2-1-1-1 formula rather than the ridiculous 2-3-2 that it has been.

Miami are also a year older, but Dwyane Wade is playing better than he was in the Play Offs last season, although the key will be for the Heat to get production out of players other than LeBron James/Wade.

There are other questions that need to be answered- how will Miami react to being the underdog in the Finals for the first time since James, Wade and Chris Bosh got together as they play for the fourth time for it all? Is Tony Parker going to have recovered enough to bring his mismatch onto the court effectively? Can the Heat bench keep the team in the game against a powerful San Antonio second unit?

All of these things lead to a fascinating series where the three point shooters could play a big part depending whether it is Danny Green/Kahwi Leonard/Patty Mills or Ray Allen/Shane Battier/Rashard Lewis that get hot from outside the three point perimeter. Either way, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Finals last all the way until June 20th when Game Seven is scheduled for San Antonio, although there is also every chance that we will then see a reverse of twelve months ago with the other side winning at home to take the title.

That could lead to the end of an era in both San Antonio and Miami with the likes of Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan deciding to retire at the top, while the Heat will be anxiously waiting upon July and whether the likes of LeBron James decides to opt out of his contract.

Prediction: San Antonio Spurs to earn revenge and win this in Game Seven at home


Thursday 5th June
Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs Game One Pick: There has been a few days off for both teams to prepare for the NBA Finals and it will be interesting to see what kind of rhythm they bring to the court with that in mind. The important news for San Antonio Spurs is that Tony Parker has had enough time to recover from his hamstring complaint that kept him out of the second half of Game Six against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals and the Spurs have a full depth to choose from.

The layers are expecting San Antonio to come out strongly in Game One at home and they are also favoured to take the series with home court advantage swinging their way compared with last season.

Last season... The way San Antonio lost that series is still bothering the likes of Tim Duncan who is usually so collected in what he says to the media, but has now seemingly given Miami some board material to use ahead of the two games to be played in Texas.

It is hard to know what to expect from Game One and the key may be the bench play of San Antonio and the role players of Miami and getting enough points from them to complement Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

While I am struggling to pick a winner in Game One against the spread, I think the over total points could be the way to begin the series- that is 5-2 in the last seven games in the series including going 4-1 in the last five games of the NBA Finals last season. Both teams are capable of some big time shooting from the three point line and any kind of form from out there should see both teams combining for enough points to surpass 198.5 total points.

The trend has suggested the under is the play in Game One of the Finals, but these teams play with a lot of shooters that can get hot, while both will potentially be in foul trouble thanks to their ability to attack the rim and so the over remains the call.


Sunday 8th June
Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs Game Two Pick: Game One produced a surreal atmosphere at times in the AT&T Center and there is no doubt the air conditioning issues had an impact on the game simply because LeBron James was unable to take the court for the best part of seven minutes in the final quarter. The game was firmly in the balance at that point, so James' absence really swung the balance towards the San Antonio Spurs.

The Miami Heat are not a team that will complain about any external factors and will simply want to get back down to work, but you can just imagine that LeBron James will be itching to set the record straight. James has said that he doesn't worry about social media, but it is clear that the 'jokes' at his expense has slighted him and that doesn't bode well for the Spurs in Game Two.

However, the Heat are also under pressure to try and steal home court advantage as it is a big ask to go back home with a 0-2 deficit in the series and the increased pressure that will bring for the next two games. I expect some adjustments to be made to try and control Tim Duncan, but Miami actually played pretty well defensively in Game One with twenty-three turnovers.

They will feel they should have won the game with that many turnovers in their pocket, but the James cramps were too much to overcome.

My feeling is that Miami are getting too many points in Game Two, but I am going to go back to the well and pick over 198.5 total points for a second game in a row. Both teams showed their capabilities from the three point perimeter in Game One, while I still believe both teams attack the rim that can lead to the free throw line.

LeBron James may just be in one of those moods to have a huge game too and I can see both teams coming close to triple digits of scoring which can lead to the total being surpassed.


Thursday 12th June
San Antonio Spurs @ Miami Heat Game Four Pick: All three games of this series could have surpassed the total points number we are going to see on Thursday and it was only a very slow Fourth Quarter in Game Two that prevented the overs being 3-0 in the series.

If you go back to the NBA Finals of last season, the over has been the play over the last seven games in the Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs and I think the number is likely to be covered again.

Both teams have shown they can get hot from the three point perimeter and their ability to attack the rim means there are fouls on shots and the bonus of getting to the line early in the quarters which extends the game.

The Miami Heat are in a desperate position, but the number of points given to San Antonio Spurs also look too many considering how competitive the first three games have been. The Spurs should really have covered in all three games, but they blew their opportunity in Game Two, although their recovery in Game Three shows the resiliency and mental strength this team possesses.

It's hard picking a winner when trying to judge which team will be the hotter from the field, especially with the way the first three games have been played. However, I still think we will see the points to cover the 197 total points mark.


Sunday 15th June
Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs Game Five Pick: This has been a series that has been dominated by the San Antonio Spurs who have shown the NBA fans what most would have known already- the Western Conference is certainly stronger than the Eastern Conference.

In saying that, I don't think many fans would have predicted that the Miami Heat would have been in the hole they are in after they split the first two games in Texas.

To be blown out once at home happens... The second time it happened was a real surprise to me and probably 85% of the watching public including the three commentators. Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were extremely surprised by the lack of 'effort' that seemingly afflicted the Miami Heat who were booed by the home fans and that certainly hasn't happened much over the last four years of the 'Big Three' playing together.

The feeling is that the Finals could be closed out today, but I can't shake off the fact that Miami have to have one more big act of resistance in them after the last two games. They've had a couple of extra days to prepare for Game Five and better shooting from them would have seen the overs come in for the third time in four games.

San Antonio have been finding scoring much easier than the Heat in the last two games and they have been going at a very effective clip which suggests the total points could be surpassed as long as Miami bring a half decent game to the court.

MY PICKS: 05/06 San Antonio Spurs-Miami Heat Over 198.5 Total Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
08/06 San Antonio Spurs-Miami Heat Over 198.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
12/06 Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs Over 196.5 Total Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
15/06 San Antonio Spurs-Miami Heat Over 196 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

NBA Finals: 1-2, - 1 Unit

Conference Finals Update5-7, - 2.20 Units
Conference Semi Finals12-10, + 1.36 Units
First Round Final22-19, + 2.02 Units

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