The San Antonio Spurs — in all of their veteran glory — have taken a 2-1 NBA Finals lead over LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Might the Big Three and Co., the NBA betting favorites since the confetti fell at their 2012 championship parade, not be big enough for Texas?
The NBA moneyline, which favors the Spurs for Thursday’s Game 4 by 1.5 points, isn’t so sure.
Over the course of the first three games of the NBA Finals, basketball fans have seen three different results play out: a nail-biter, a Heat blowout and a Spurs blowout. More than just satisfying symmetry, however, the games combine to tell basketball fans and NBA oddsmakers alike just what they can expect over the course of the rest of the series.
Both the Heat and the Spurs, simply put, are capable of taking their fate into their own hands if and when necessary. We saw it with Miami in Game 2 when James (relatively quiet compared to what he’s capable of) laid low, using his dominating presence to free up perimeter-threat teammates Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller (the trio combined for 41 points).
James struggled in Game 3, which in turn limited the opportunities for his teammates.
In Game 3, San Antonio really showed its depth. After a disappointing second game — in which the Spurs fell victim to a Heat team that was firing on all cylinders and in which they turned the ball over far more than is appropriate for the Finals — the Spurs responded. With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker logging modest minutes, San Antonio saw enormous contributions from its secondary weapons: 27 points from Danny Green, 24 points from Gary Neal and 14 points from Kawhi Leonard.
The point that hoops fans can take away from it all is a simple one: both San Antonio and Miami are capable of winning ball games regardless of what the other team can do on defense on any given night — that’s the level of talent in this series.
The question is whether Erik Spoelstra and the Heat will be able to replicate Game 2 — where James wreaked havoc, driving the paint and dishing out to the 3-point line — before Gregg Popovich can repeat his own success in Game 3. While San Antonio set an NBA Finals record with 16 three-pointers on Tuesday, only one came from Parker, Ginobili and Duncan combined. That won’t happen every day.
Most realistically, San Antonio’s 3-point shooters will return to Earth in Game 4, and James will rebound after his worst outing of the postseason. That doesn’t make betting on the NBA Finals any easier, but it will make for some hard-fought games.
This post is presented by Bovada.