Insider’s Guide to Handicapping the NBA Conference Finals
Both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals are now down to being a best-of-three contest as all four teams were able to take full advantage of its home court. The NBA’s version of the Final Four continues this Monday night with Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals showdown between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. The Boston Celtics verse Miami Heat series in the Eastern Conference Finals resumes with Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The following is brief recap of each series along with some current betting trends that should provide an inside tract to gaining an edge on handicapping the upcoming games.
Western Conference Finals- Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City was down but far from out after losing the first two games of this series as underdogs on the road. It took care of business at home with a 20-point blowout in last Thursday night’s Game 3 as a four-point home favorite followed by a six-point 109-103 victory as a 3.5-point home favorite this past Saturday night. Kevin Durant has paced the Thunder with 116 points in four games with Russell Westbrook and James Harding chipping-in a combined 34 points a game.
San Antonio had reeled-off 20 straight wins including 10 in the postseason before last Thursday night’s loss and is now just 1-4 against the spread in its last five games. The total has been evenly split in this series at 2-2 in the first four games. The veteran leadership of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker continues to lead the way, but the Spurs have also gotten some major contributions from Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard in this series.
This matchup appears set to go the distance with the all-important deciding Game 7 slated for this upcoming Friday. Both teams have been able to use the energy of their home court to generate some wins, so the big question remains. Can the Thunder win in San Antonio where they are 0-5 SU and 2-3 ATS in their last five trips there?
Eastern Conference Finals- Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Boston’s heart-breaking 115-111 loss in overtime of Game 2 as a 3.5-point road underdog, would have severely tested the will of most teams. In the Celtics case, it woke-up this team up as they responded with two crucial victories at home in the last two games. One thing that this veteran group has to be concerned with is its inability to hold onto leads. It has now streaked-out to fast starts in the last three games but two of them had to be decided in overtime.
Miami showed the ill-effects of Chris Bosh still being out of the lineup with an abdominal strain in its recent stint in Boston. LeBron James continued to put-up some big numbers with 34 points in Game 3 and 29 points this past Sunday night, but Dwyane Wade has really struggled shooting the ball. He went 9-for-20 from the field in last Friday’s loss and was 7-for-22 in Game 4. Right now Bosh is expected back for Tuesday night’s Game 5, which would be a much welcomed addition to the lineup for the Heat.
Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio
The Thunder are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six road games and 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games overall. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of their last five games on the road.
The Spurs are 23-5-1 ATS in their last 29 home games and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a SU loss. The total has stayed ‘under’ in seven of their last 10 playoff games as favorites.
Oklahoma City is 5-12-1 ATS in its last 18 games in San Antonio. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings and the total has gone ‘over’ in six of the last eight games.
Boston vs. Miami
The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall but just 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a SU win. The total has gone ‘over’ in five of their last seven games on one day’s rest.
The Heat are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games as favorites at home but just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games playing on one day’s rest. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of their last seven games.
Boston is now 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings and the total has gone ‘over’ in six of the last seven games played in Miami. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.