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January 21, 2021

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What you need to know about betting on the NBA Finals in Las Vegas

Wade Finals


Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (3) shoots over Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson (1) during the first half of Game 7 in their NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Monday, June 3, 2013 in Miami.

Thursday's Game One

  • Spread: — San Antonio +5 @ Miami
  • Moneyline: — San Antonio +195 @ Miami -230
  • Total: — o/u 188.5
  • Talking Points' Pick: — Heat 100, Spurs 89 (Heat -5)
  • Numbers from Cantor Gaming

NBA Finals Series Result Odds

  • Spurs win in 4 — 25-to-1
  • Spurs win in 5 — 12-to-1
  • Spurs win in 6 — 6-to-1
  • Spurs win in 7 — 13-to-2
  • Heat win in 4 — 6-to-1
  • Heat win in 5 — 7-to-2
  • Heat win in 6 — 3-to-1
  • Heat win in 7 — 3-to-1
  • Talking Points' Pick: — Heat in 5
  • Numbers from William Hill sports books

Game 1 Player Over/Unders

  • LeBron James points + rebounds + assists — 42.5
  • Tony Parker points + rebounds + assists — 32.5
  • Chris Bosh points + rebounds — 20.5
  • Tim Duncan points — 18.5
  • Dwyane Wade points — 16.5
  • Kawhi Leonard points — 11.5
  • Manu Ginobili — 11.5
  • Mario Chalmers — 9.5
  • Numbers from LVH Superbook

The numbers illuminated across betting boards in sports books throughout Las Vegas can be as seductive as biblical fruit.

Humans make the mistake of giving in to the odds and considering them the be-all, end-all projection of a certain game or event.

It’s easy to forget that oddsmakers’ purpose isn’t to predict the outcome and that, sometimes, the sports betting market doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The fluctuation of the Miami Heat’s odds to win a second straight NBA championship over the past two weeks should work as a reminder of the truth.

The 2013 NBA Finals begin at 5:30 Thursday in Miami, where the Heat host the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series.

Everyone can agree LeBron James and his counterparts are closer to the Larry O’Brien Trophy than they were before the Eastern Conference Finals started, right? There’s one fewer team and four fewer wins standing in between the Heat becoming the first team to repeat as champions since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

But, according solely to future odds in Las Vegas sports books, Miami was 13 percent more likely to win the title before the just-concluded series with the Indiana Pacers ever began.

The LVH Superbook had the Heat at minus-400 (risking $4 to win $1) to win the NBA title on May 20. Now they’re just minus-220.

San Antonio’s numbers swayed the opposite direction, as it was plus-450 to end the season with a championship before a near pick’em Western Conference Finals series against the Memphis Grizzlies. An impressive sweep of the Grizzlies more than chopped the price in half, as the Spurs now come back at a plus-190 (risking $1 to win $1.90) in the NBA Finals.

The odds mean sports books give the Heat a 67 percent chance of topping the Spurs.

What’s with the hasty change? The biggest factor, even more than the way Miami struggled with Indiana and took seven games to close out the series, is public perception.

Bets are coming in on the Spurs to win the NBA Finals. The Superbook and William Hill sports books both posted Miami as closer to 3-to-1 odds over San Antonio when the Eastern Conference Finals were winding down but had to adjust with action on the Spurs.

The Heat also opened as a 5.5-point favorite in tonight’s Game 1 before getting bet down to 5 at most spots around town. While debate rages on nationally about whether the Spurs' 10-day layoff will prove beneficial or detrimental, gamblers in Las Vegas are siding with the former.

There’s evidence that suggests the Spurs are better off with rest, as they went 9-1 against the spread this season when more than three days passed in between games.

One area where there seems to be no disagreement is in the importance of San Antonio point guard Tony Parker, who averaged 24.5 points and 9.5 assists in the four games against Memphis.

Parker is the Spurs' best player — unlike the first four times the franchise advanced to and won the NBA Finals — but might be getting trumpeted too loudly.

The Superbook set 32.5 combined points, rebounds and assists as an over/under proposition wager for Parker in Game 1. That’s only 10 less than James’ 42.5 points, rebounds and assists total.

Many have referred to Parker as the second-best player in the series, which is a disservice to Miami’s Dwyane Wade. Parker had the best season of his career and still fell short of posting a superior Player Efficiency Rating to Wade for the 10th straight year.

Of course, Wade is dealing with knee issues and wasn’t himself against the Pacers. He shot only 44 percent and hadn’t eclipsed 20 points until Monday’s Game 7, when he chipped in a helpful 21.

Wade’s problems may continue, but Chris Bosh looks like a better bet to bounce back against the Spurs. Bosh had the worst playoff series of his career against Indiana, averaging eight points and 4.5 rebounds on 31 percent shooting.

Pacers center Roy Hibbert had always caused Bosh problems, though. The Heat’s finesse power forward never fares well against 7-footers, something the Spurs lack.

Tim Duncan is 6-foot-11 but doesn’t play like a traditional big man. Since coming to Miami, Bosh has arguably played better against San Antonio than any other team.

He’s averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds against the Spurs and had two of his best games in a Miami uniform against Duncan and company. Bosh’s total of 20 combined points and rebounds in Game 1 looks short unless a lingering turned ankle continues to hinder his production.

Duncan’s over/under points is 18.5. The Spurs are 4-1 straight-up and 3-2 against the spread this postseason when Duncan scores more than that.

Since James, Wade and Bosh joined forces in Miami, the team is 4-1 straight-up and 3-2 against the spread versus San Antonio. Take away this season’s two matchups, when both coaches opted to rest their starters in road games, and the Heat are still 2-1 against the spread and 2-1 straight-up against the Spurs in this era.

There’s no reason Miami’s odds to win the series should have taken such a hit, and now there’s value available for anyone willing to extract it.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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