NBA Finals Betting: Game 5

NBA Finals Betting: Game 5

The task for the two-time defending champion Miami Heat is a daunting one: Win three straight games against a Spurs team that completely dominated them in Games 3 and 4 of the 2014 NBA Finals. San Antonio has won three games by an average margin of 18.3 points. The Heat hadn’t lost back-to-back postseason games since 2012, and the last time they trailed 3-1 in a series was the 2011 NBA Finals, which they eventually lost in five games to the Mavericks. Needless to say, the picture is bleak for LeBron and Co. That said, underestimating the Heat isn’t advisable. Despite their poor efforts thus far, they are fully capable of flipping a switch and reversing their fortunes. Here’s a breakdown of Sunday night’s critical Game 5.

MIAMI AT SAN ANTONIO -5.5

What exactly is wrong with the Heat? It’s a combination of things, but fatigue is chief among them. Everyone, including LeBron, appears tired. San Antonio’s superior depth is wearing down Miami’s starters. Heavy legs has been most problematic on the defensive end; the Spurs are pretty much doing what they want offensively, shooting over 57% in each of their last two wins. Meanwhile, James is getting little help from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — the not so dynamic duo combined to miss 16 of 24 shots in Game 4. Ray Allen hitting from beyond the arc wouldn’t hurt, either; he’s 8-19 from three-point distance thus far.

What exactly is going right for the Spurs? Try everything. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have all been solid, but far from spectacular. The real reason for San Antonio’s success is their role players. When Boris Diaw is dishing 9 assists and grabbing 9 rebounds and Patty Mills is chipping in 14 points off the bench, San Antonio is virtually unbeatable. And then there’s budding star Kawhi Leonard, who has totaled 49 points and 18 rebounds in his last two starts after going MIA in Games 1 and 2. Leonard has Paul George-like ability, but in the Spurs’ unselfish system he has yet to truly shine. He’s a legit two-way player and the best pure athlete on the roster.

Although under different circumstances, San Antonio was in a similar spot in the 2013 Finals. They were 30 seconds away from winning it all in Game 6, but fell apart. However, this time around they will be playing in front of a fevered crowd that smells blood. They must capitalize on this golden opportunity, because heading back to Miami for another Game 6 could be their eventual undoing. The good news for the Spurs is no team in league history has come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit. Plus, they have been terrific at home, going 8-1 ATS in their last nine.

Trusting Miami is tough. They just don’t look like a championship team at this point. If not for a late three-pointer by Bosh in Game 2, this series might be over. Can James save them as he has so many times before? The extra day rest should do them some good. The Spurs will likely seal the deal at home, but the Heat will keep it close.

Bet Miami +5.5