NBA Finals Game 4 Preview
No. 2 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER at No. 2 MIAMI HEAT (Heat lead series 2-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Miami -3.5 & 192.5
Opening Line & Total: Heat -3.5 & 192
After a stunning comeback win in Game 3, the Heat try to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Thunder when the teams meet again on Tuesday night in Miami.
Although the Heat were able to erase a 10-point, third-quarter deficit to win 91-85, this game was more about the Thunder giving it away than Miami taking it. Oklahoma City, the league’s best free-throw shooting team at 80.7%, finished 15-for-24 (62.5%) from the line including seven misses in the second half. Kevin Durant was in foul trouble all night and was shut down by LeBron James in the fourth quarter, making just 2-of-6 FG. James was once again his team’s offensive star too, with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Teammate Dwyane Wade missed 10 shots in the first half, but still managed to produce 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. The Thunder have also been resilient after an SU loss this season, going 18-5 SU and 15-8 ATS (65%). And although they have lost two in a row, since Scott Brooks took over as the OKC head coach, he is 40-17 ATS (70%) after 2+ consecutive losses.
On Tuesday, Miami was somehow able to overcome its 38% FG (33% FG in the second half) and 15 turnovers, including nine in the fourth quarter alone. Making 31-of-35 free throws was certainly a boost for Miami, as was Oklahoma City’s six turnovers in the final period. Poor shooting was a theme for Game 3, as the Thunder shot 42.9% FG, including 4-of-18 from three-point range, while the Heat made a pitiful 18% of their shots from outside of 10 feet. With Sunday’s home win, they are now 37-7 SU (84%) at AmericanAirlines Arena with a 25-18-1 ATS mark (58%). In the 2012 playoffs, Miami is 9-2 SU (8-3 ATS) at home in these playoffs, scoring 98.6 PPG and giving up only 87.2 PPG. The Thunder are still the NBA’s third-best road team at 25-16 SU (61%) and are a solid 23-17-1 ATS (58%), including 5-2-1 ATS in playoff road tilts. Both teams have nearly identical records with just one day’s rest, as Miami is now 35-16 (25-26 ATS), while Oklahoma City is 34-15 (25-23-1 ATS).
Although Durant didn’t take over the fourth quarter like he had in Games 1-2 (combined 33 points in final period), he still finished with 25 points on 11-of-19 FG with six rebounds and two blocks. His five turnovers and five personal fouls hurt his team though. Reserve SG James Harden also damaged his team’s win chances by making just 2-of-10 shots including 0-for-4 from long range. Although he was held to single-digits in scoring (nine), Harden still produced six assists, six rebounds and two steals. PG Russell Westbrook clearly had his worst game of the series with 19 points (8-of-18 FG) and just four assists. In Games 1-2, Westbrook averaged 27.0 PPG and 9.0 APG. C Kendrick Perkins bounced back from a poor Game 2 (four points, minus-16 rating) with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, six coming on the offensive end. PG Derek Fisher scored nine points off the bench, but was just 3-of-8 shooting and posted a minus-9 rating. That wasn’t as bad as either starting SG Thabo Sefolosha or reserve PF Nick Collison, who each finished Game 3 with a minus-11 rating.
James is having a much better NBA Finals series than he did last year. His 30.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 86% FT completely dwarf his 2011 NBA Finals production of 17.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 60% FT. Wade, on the other hand, has seen his numbers drop significantly in this series (22.7 PPG, 41% FG, 3.7 TOPG) compared to last year’s championship series (26.5 PPG, 55% FG, 2.5 TOPG). On Sunday night, PF Chris Bosh posted his second straight double-double since being inserted back into the starting lineup, scoring 10 points (3-of-12 FG) with 11 rebounds. SF Shane Battier played 35 minutes on Sunday, but attempted only two shots, which were both successful three-point attempts. He is now an incredible 14-for-19 (74%) from the floor in the NBA Finals, which includes going 11-of-15 from downtown (73%). However, PG Mario Chalmers had another dismal shooting night (1-for-8), making him 2-for-15 from the floor (1-for-6 on threes) with a total of five points in his past two games. The Heat bench didn’t do very much again with just three field goals made, but the foursome combined to knock down all nine of their free throws, and post a +17 rating in a combined 38 minutes.
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