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September 30, 2014

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NBA Finals in Vegas: Spurs now favored in series but history on Heat’s side in game two

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (4), left, reacts with San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball game, Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Miami. The Spurs defeated the Heat 92-88.

Fans in San Antonio might as well crank Rihanna’s breakthrough single “Umbrella” and dust off those black and silver Robert Horry jerseys.

They should party like it’s June 2007, and not just because their Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since suppressing this very King (James) six years ago.

After Tony Parker’s royal tease — how else to describe dribbling out the shot clock in the final seconds of a game with the world’s best player guarding you before banking in a runner at the last possible split-second — led San Antonio to a 92-88 victory over the Miami Heat in game one of the NBA championship series, the Spurs are now favored to win the title for the first time since their last reign.

Las Vegas oddsmakers adjusted San Antonio’s price to win the series to minus-120 (risking $1.20 to win $1) with the Heat coming back at Even money.

It was a long battle back to the top of sports books’ boards for the Spurs, perennially one of the top teams in the league but usually behind a couple others in terms of hype and betting interest.

San Antonio opened at 12-to-1 to win the title at the LVH Superbook this year, behind three other teams. They stayed third with odds at 5-to-1 or higher until the second round of the playoffs.

Not even last year when the Spurs went up 2-0 on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals and had people buzzing about them being the best team in franchise history did they become the finals favorite.

By the way, they dropped the next four games in that series and were denied an opportunity to face Miami.

It’s a recurring theme for the Spurs: They’re lethal with rest but slightly less efficient when the every-other-day games start piling up.

That might be part of the reason why the Heat have settled as six-point favorites — a point higher than the game one line — in Sunday’s game two, which tips off at 5 tonight on ESPN.

Five home teams have lost game one in an NBA Playoff series over the last two years. All five rebounded to win and cover in game two before going on the road.

Looking back a bit further, 20 teams have been in the same situation as the Heat in the NBA Playoffs over last five years. Although they’re an even 10-10 against the spread, the desperate home team is an astounding 18-2 straight-up after dropping the first game.

It’s worth holding off on those Spurs moneyline bets at plus-230 — the Heat come back at minus-270 — on history alone.

Miami also responds well to losses, particularly in the opening game of a playoff series. The Heat have lost three Game Ones since James infamously took his talents to South Beach, but covered and won in every following game two.

The last 10 times they’ve lost, the Heat have come back to beat the Vegas number their next time out.

Sports books haven’t posted a team at lower odds to win the title than Miami since it dropped game one of the finals in Oklahoma City last year. The Heat aren’t used to staring up to anyone, not in Las Vegas.

Game Two Pick (0-1 NBA Finals): Over 187.5 Both teams want to play up-tempo, which is going to lead to more than the abnormally-low 12 combined turnovers in game one. The teams’ care for the ball severely cut down on transition points, which should increase today. The Heat and the Spurs also bricked several open 3-point looks Thursday.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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