It shouldn’t be surprising in the slightest that San Antonio took a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals against the defending champions from Miami as the Spurs returned home. In case you need a reminder, the Spurs were nearly flawless at home this season (35-6) and are the Western Conference champs. But no one had a 36-point blowout in the cards. This will be a huge test of Miami’s championship mettle as they head into Game 4 on Thursday night where they are again an underdog on the NBA odds.
Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs
Odds: Spurs -1
The Spurs ran away with it in the second half, outscoring Miami 63-33 in a 113-77 pounding, powered by Danny Green’s 27 points along with Gary Neal adding 24 off the bench. San Antonio hit an NBA Finals-record 16 three-points, nailing half of their attempts from beyond the arc, and they also outrebounded the Heat 52-36, including 19-9 on the offensive end. However, the win may have cost the Spurs their starting point guard as Tony Parker has a hamstring strain and may have to sit out Game 4. Neal won’t have to be as good as he was in Game 3, but he may have to handle big minutes once again.
LeBron James had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while Dwyane Wade dropped 16 and had four steals for the Heat, who basically gave up in a fourth quarter in which they were outscored 35-14. They didn’t look at all like the defending champions on Tuesday night and Game 4 will be more of a mental test for them, which is something they’ve dealt with since putting together the trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh (who had 12 points and 10 rebounds). James knows he has to play better, but he could be starting to wear down after an intense two years, both in the NBA and in international basketball. The Heat simply can’t afford to have another game like this and if they lose, they have to at least go down fighting, which they didn’t on Tuesday.
San Antonio is a 1.5-point favorite at home and because of the 2-3-2 format in the Finals, they are very much in the driver’s seat because a win in Game 4 would give them a chance to clinch in Game 5 on their own floor. After what they did to the Heat on Tuesday night, it is very difficult to bet against them.
However, this Miami team has responded well with their backs against the wall over the last year, and even though it isn’t fair, the onus is on James to explode and lead the team to victory. He needs a game of epic proportions like the one he had last year in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in Boston, where he put up 45 points and 15 rebounds in an elimination game. The entire team has to be better but your best player has to lead. James has to find another gear on Thursday night and he will. Take the Heat on the basketball betting spread.
Pick: Heat +1