NBA Finals Game 5 Preview & Pick: Heat at Spurs

Has any NBA road team ever looked as dominant in back-to-back games as the San Antonio Spurs did in marching to a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals? The Miami Heat lost consecutive playoff games for the first time since the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals and the Spurs’ 21-point victory was the third-largest margin of victory for a road team in NBA Finals history. With wins in Games 3 and 4 on the road, the Spurs became the 12th team to win both of those road games in NBA Finals history and it’s the second time the Spurs have done that against Lebron James, accomplishing that feat against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007.

Unlike in Game 3, the Spurs never let up in Game 4. The Heat trimmed the Game 3 deficit to single digits but could not come close in Game 4. The Spurs led by as many as 25 and took a 24-point lead into the fourth quarter. A game after shooting 59.4 percent on the road, the Spurs hot shooting continued as they connected 57.1 percent of the time from the floor.

The Boris Diaw substitution in the starting lineup again paid huge dividends for the Spurs. Diaw only had eight points but had nine rebounds and nine assists and improved on his series-best plus-minus with a +15 on the scoresheet. Tim Duncan had his worst performance of the series with only 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, but Kawhi Leonard had another huge game with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Lebron James did all that he could with a game-high 28, more than double the next highest point output from a teammate. He also led the Heat in rebounds with eight. Chris Bosh had 12 and Dwyane Wade had 10 in the losing effort and it would appear that the season-long grind and high intensity postseason have worn those two down. They were 8-of-24 shooting as a duo.

These two games have been some of the best performances by a team in NBA history. Gregg Popovich has pushed all the right buttons and Erik Spoelstra has no idea how to stop Miami’s freefall. As a result, Game 5’s line of Spurs -6 is the largest in the series to date.

It’s rather surprising to see the line set there, since the Heat have not only been dominated in almost every facet of the game over the last two games, but their only saving grace in this series was their performance on their home court leading up to the Finals. The Heat were a perfect 8-0 at home before running into the Spurs. The Spurs had been having problems shooting the ball away from home, but those problems are a mere footnote in their 2014 NBA Playoffs story at this point.

Only once in Finals history has a series gone W-L-W-W for the team with home-court advantage and they finished off the series in Game 5. It has happened 18 times in NBA postseason history and the team with a 3-1 series lead is 14-4 in those games. Regardless of venue, teams with a 3-1 lead are 129-94 in playoff history and just 16-15 in Finals history when they attempt to close out the series.

In the NBA Finals, teams that lead 3-1 after four games are a perfect 31-0 in the series. In franchise history, the Spurs are 10-5 in Game 5 with a chance to close out the series and 14-1 in series overall. The Heat have only faced this position three times in franchise history and are 1-2. The one time that they won Game 5, they also won the series.

Make no mistake that the Spurs have zero desire to go back to Miami for Game 6 after what happened there in last year’s Game 6, where San Antonio blew a five-point lead with under a minute left and eventually lost the series. San Antonio is 12-4 straight up in NBA Finals history and the Heat are just 5-8 on the road. The Spurs are 10-2 at home this postseason and had their streak of eight consecutive covers snapped in Game 2. They are 8-4 ATS. Miami is 5-4 straight up and ATS on the road this postseason.

The Spurs are 5-1 in their last six as a favorite and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 following a straight up win. The Spurs are 15-6 ATS in their last 21 following a win by 10 or more. They are also 8-0 in their last eight as a favorite of 5.0-10.5 points and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 after scoring 100 or more in their previous game.

The Heat will be looking to bounce back and that’s something they have done well of late. Following an ATS loss, the Heat are 6-2 in their last eight games and 5-1 ATS in their last six games after a loss. They are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games after a double-digit loss at home. However, the Heat have not fared well as an underdog. The Heat are just 1-4 ATS in their last five as an underdog and 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine playoff games when getting points.

For totals bettors, the total for Game 5 is 195. The Spurs are 9-3 to the over in their last 12 games on two days of rest, while the Heat are 7-1 to the under. The over is 12-5 in San Antonio’s last 17 playoff games as a favorite of 5.0-10.5 points and 5-0-1 in Miami’s last six with a spread in that range.

Free NBA Pick: San Antonio Spurs

Outside of Lebron James in Games 3 and 4, the rest of the Heat players shot just 42 percent and everybody not named Lebron shot 40.7 percent in Game 4. San Antonio’s depth has completely worn down the Heat and their plethora of scoring options has made it really difficult for the Heat to defend effectively. History, fatigue, health, and age are working against the Heat, but the biggest thing working against the Heat is that they’re just not as good of a team. It’s hard to see them rallying around Lebron James in Game 5 to push this series back to Miami.

Adam Burke

Adam Burke

Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.