NBA Finals Game 3 Preview & Pick: Spurs at Heat

Lebron James answered and silenced critics following his Game 1 cramping episode to drop 35 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists to help the Miami Heat take away home-court advantage from the San Antonio Spurs and send the series back to South Beach tied at 1-1. James didn’t get a whole lot of help from his teammates, accounting for over 35 percent of the team’s 98 points, but it was enough to even up the series with a 98-96 victory.

James scored 33 of his 35 points over the final three quarters. The Heat have won 13 consecutive NBA playoff games following a loss. Miami outscored San Antonio 44-34 in the paint, which will be a key to the series going forward because of San Antonio’s balanced offensive attack that necessitates points in the paint. Miami has now gone 47 games without consecutive playoff losses.

The Spurs were uncharacteristically sloppy late in the game, committing three turnovers in the final 1:08 to hamper any chances at a comeback. Over the final 6:30 of the game, the Spurs failed to reach the free throw line. Tim Duncan was outstanding again with 18 points and 15 rebounds, but secondary scoring was hard to come by as the Heat paid better attention to Danny Green and held him to just nine points and Tony Parker had more points (21) than Kawhi Leonard, Green, and Tiago Splitter – the other three starters – combined (20). On the Heat side, Rashard Lewis, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade were the others in double figures.

A lack of attention to detail spurred San Antonio’s loss with the late turnovers, eight missed free throws on 20 attempts, and the Spurs were outrebounded after holding a big advantage in Game 1. Regardless, it was still a close, exciting game with 17 lead changes and 12 ties. The loss snapped a string of eight straight wins and covers at home for the Spurs.

Looking ahead to Game 3, the Heat are a four-point favorite on their home floor. Road shooting was a major problem for the Spurs in their series against Oklahoma City, as they shot below 40 percent from the floor in their Game 3 and Game 4 losses. The usually unflappable Spurs showed a lot of negative emotion following their Game 2 loss, lamenting about how they let one get away and it seems like last season’s NBA Finals may be creeping back into their minds.

In NBA history, the road team in a series tied 1-1 is 19-15 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but just 85-97 across all rounds. The team that won Game 1 but lost Game 2 is 23-13 overall in the NBA Finals and if that team is on the road for Game 3, they are 13-7 all-time. Those are good signs for the Spurs to bounce back. Not a good sign for the Spurs is that the Heat are 11-3 in Game 3 of a tied series.

The only team better at shooting the ball on its home court in the playoffs than the Spurs is the Heat. The Heat lead the NBA at 50.9 percent from the floor at home. The Spurs are now second at 50.6 percent. Also of interest, no team has committed fewer fouls at home than the Heat. The Spurs are second in that category. Officiating certainly plays a role come playoff time and with home-court advantage taken away from the Spurs that will be an interesting development to watch.

Away from AT&T Center, the Spurs are shooting 45.4 percent, which is in the middle of the pack. The key weapon that opens up the interior game for the Spurs is their three-point shooting prowess, which has been non-existent on the road. The Spurs are shooting just 32.6 percent from beyond the arc away from the familiar shooting backdrop on their home floor. That’s a difference of nearly 13 percent with an average of more three-pointers attempted per road game.

In the 2014 NBA Playoffs, the Heat are a perfect 8-0 straight up at home and 6-2 against the spread. They have been favored in every home game. The Spurs are 3-5 straight up on the road and 2-6 against the number. As a road underdog, the Spurs are 2-2 straight up and ATS.

The Heat are back in familiar territory as a favorite. Game 6 against Indiana snapped a 14-game favorite streak for the Heat, who have been an underdog in three of their last four. This postseason, the Heat are 10-4 ATS when laying points. Depending on where the number goes, the Heat are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 as a home favorite of 0.5-4.5 points and 6-1 ATS in their last seven as a favorite of 5.0-10.5 points.

Bouncing back in regards to the number has been tough for the Spurs, who are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 following an ATS loss. The Spurs are 2-7 ATS in their last nine on the road. If the number gets to five or higher, the Spurs are 2-7 ATS in their last nine playoff games as an underdog of 5.0-10.5 points.

For totals bettors, the total is 198 for Game 3 after splitting 1-1 on over/under in San Antonio with totals right around there. Momentum has been big for the Heat with a 6-1 over mark following a straight up win. The over is 4-0 in Miami’s last four home games and 7-1 in their last eight as a favorite. The over is 15-7 in San Antonio’s last 22 following an ATS loss. The over is 34-16-1 in San Antonio’s last 51 as an underdog of 0.5-4.5 points.

Free NBA Pick: Miami Heat

The Heat are back into the series and back onto their home floor against a team that shoots the rock far better at home than on the road. The Spurs seemed unusually frustrated after their Game 2 defeat and there may be some carryover into Game 3. It was a one-game sample, but the Heat may have cracked the code by outscoring the Spurs in the paint and that’s a big deal because of the Spurs’ shooting woes away from home. The paint game because magnified for San Antonio in Games 3 and 4. If the Spurs can shoot it well early and get into a rhythm, it will make life easier, but that hasn’t been the case to date.

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 BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.

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