NBA Finals Game 4 Preview

hi-res-6825008_crop_exactMIAMI HEAT at SAN ANTONIO SPURS Line & Total: San Antonio -1 & 187.5

The Spurs hope to carry momentum from their three-point barrage in Game 3 to and build up a 3-1 series lead over the Heat on Thursday. But they could be without star point guard Tony Parker, who is questionable with a hamstring injury.

After a Game 1 thriller, which ended as a 92-88 win for San Antonio, the last two contests have been blowouts. A 33-5 Miami run in Game 2 led to a 104-84 win, but the Spurs came out firing in Game 3, making an NBA Finals record 16 three-pointers (16-of-32) to win a 113-77 laugher at AT&T Center. Like Game 2, the score was tight at halftime (50-44), but San Antonio outscored the defending champions 63-33 in the final two quarters. Both Danny Green (27 points, 7-of-9 threes) and Gary Neal (24 points, 6-of-10 threes) recorded playoff-career-high scoring games for the Spurs, which outrebounded the Heat 52-36, including 19-9 on the offensive glass. San Antonio improved to 42-7 SU at home this season, but is just 24-23-2 ATS in its home arena. Despite the big defeat, the Heat remain the NBA’s third-best road wager this season (29-20 ATS, 59%), but have now lost three straight road games during this postseason, dropping these contests by an average score of 101 to 82. Miami has been the better team on short rest this season though, going 35-28 ATS (56%) with one day’s rest, while San Antonio is just 29-30 ATS (49%) in this same scenario. The Heat are also 15-6 ATS (71%) when coming off an SU loss, including 11 straight victories, both SU and ATS.

Miami is 13-6 SU and 10-9 ATS (53%) this postseason, but the offense has really gone sour in the past seven games, reaching 100 points just once and averaging a mere 89.4 PPG on 42.8% FG despite an excellent 41.6% three-point clip. Turnovers have not been the problem during this stretch (10.3 TOPG), but the Heat are not making the extra pass, sporting a pedestrian 17.3 APG during these seven contests. Before Game 3, the Miami defense had allowed 100 points only once in the playoffs, giving up 102 in an overtime win. Even with the 113-point barrage on Tuesday, Heat opponents have scored just 89.0 PPG on 43.1% FG (34.9% threes) in the 19 postseason games. SF LeBron James (16.7 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 7.3 APG in series) finished Game 3 with decent overall numbers (15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals), but he had a game-worst rating of minus-32, and really disappeared when the Spurs starting blowing the game out. James has made just 38.9% FG in this series and 36.8% FG in seven career NBA Finals games versus San Antonio. SG Dwyane Wade (14.3 PPG, 4.3 APG in series) also was nowhere to be found when the Spurs were making their Game 3 run, but due mostly to a strong first half, Wade finished with 16 points (7-of-15 FG), five assists and four steals. After seven straight postseasons with at least 22.0 PPG, Wade has just 14.2 PPG in these playoffs. Although he has back-to-back double-doubles of 12 points and 10 rebounds, the Heat need more from PF Chris Bosh (12.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG in series), who hasn’t surpassed 20 points in any playoff game. During the regular season he had 19 instances of scoring over 20 points. The team <i>really</i> needs more production from PG Mario Chalmers (9.0 PPG in series) who had zero points (0-for-5 FG), one assist and four turnovers in Game 3. Just two nights earlier, Chalmers poured in a game-high 19 points (6-of-12 FG, 2-of-4 threes) with a game-best rating of +30. Miami’s reserve trio of SF Mike Miller (9.7 PPG on 10-of-11 FG in series), SG Ray Allen (10.0 PPG on 10-of-14 FG in series) and PF Chris Andersen (6.0 PPG on 7-of-9 FG in series) all need to get more looks, as the trio is an amazing 19-of-22 shooting (86%) in the past two games, with Miller a perfect 8-for-8 threes and Allen 3-of-5 threes. Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point shooting, did not attempt a single three-pointer in Game 3 though.

The Spurs continue to roll during these playoffs, sporting a record of 14-3 SU and 12-5 ATS (71%), outscoring opponents by 9.6 PPG, and outshooting them 46% FG to 42% FG. Part of this great accuracy has come from an unselfish and careful offense that has 23.0 APG and just 11.9 TOPG (1.94 Ast/TO ratio). Defensively, the team has generated 7.9 SPG and 5.2 BPG, which has helped make up for a minus-1.3 RPG margin during this postseason. PF Tim Duncan (13.7 PPG, 13.0 RPG in series) responded from a horrible Game 2 (NBA Finals career-worst nine points on 3-of-13 FG) with a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds. His board work (7 offensive rebounds) helped keep key possessions alive and he also blocked two shots. PG Tony Parker (13.3 PPG, 6.3 APG in series) has been excellent in the postseason, but the “slight elongation” in his right hamstring injury could be a major issue. After a mammoth 21 points (9-of-18 FG), six assists and zero turnovers in Game 1, he’s scored just 19 points (7-of-19 FG) with 13 assists and seven turnovers in the past two contests combined. Luckily the team had both SG Danny Green (18.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG in series) and SG Gary Neal (13.7 PPG in series) to help fill Parker’s void. Green is an amazing 16-of-23 (70%) from three-point range this series, while Neal is 9-for-18 from downtown. Their scoring has relegated SG Manu Ginobili (8.3 PPG, 3.3 APG in series) to just 23.6 MPG this series. Ginobili missed all four of his threes on Tuesday — dropping his shooting clips to 36.4% FG and 26.5% threes over the past nine games — but he did have six assists to help his team. SF Kawhi Leonard (11.0 PPG, 12.0 RPG in series) has also not let poor shooting take him out of his game. He’s made just 13-of-31 FG (41.9%) in the NBA Finals, but has played stellar defense on LeBron James and ripped down 13 offensive boards already. He also posted a game-best +29 rating in Game 3.

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