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NBA Betting News and Notes Tuesday 6/12

NBA Betting News and Notes Tuesday 6/12

Heat at Thunder Game 1: What Bettors Need to Know

Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder (-5, 194.5)

With this year's conference finals featuring showdowns between young up-and-comers and grizzled veterans, youth prevailed both times. That should make the 2012 NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder one of the most fast-paced matchups in recent memory. The two superstar-laden teams begin the championship Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. The Thunder reached the finals with a six-game win over San Antonio. Miami ousted the Boston Celtics in seven.

ABOUT THE HEAT: Miami is playing in its second straight Finals and is led by mega-star LeBron James, who willed his team to victory with sensational performances in Games 6 and 7 against the Celtics. James scored 76 points and hauled in 27 rebounds over the final two games of the series after Miami found itself on the verge of a shocking upset at the hands of the Celtics. James will be accompanied by fellow star Dwyane Wade and a suddenly healthy Chris Bosh, whose low-post presence will make life difficult for the Thunder front court combo of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. Miami's big weakness is its reserve corps, which will be in tough to match the productivity of its Oklahoma City counterpart.

ABOUT THE THUNDER: So much for San Antonio's air of invincibility. Going into the third game of the West finals, the Spurs had won 20 straight games and looked virtually unstoppable. Four games later, it was the Thunder who were celebrating after reeling off four straight wins over a shell-shocked Spurs squad. Three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant and electric point guard Russell Westbrook lead the way for Oklahoma City, while star sixth man James Harden provides instant scoring off the bench. Add in a reliable post presence in Perkins and one of the league's elite shot blockers in Ibaka, and it's clear the Thunder are full value for their first NBA finals appearance since relocating from Seattle.


- Heat are 0-6-1 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog.
- Over is 6-2 in Thunder's last eight home games.
- Underdog is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 meetings.


1. The teams split a pair of regular-season meetings, with the home team prevailing each time.

2. The matchup features each of the last five scoring champions in Durant (2010-12), Wade (2009) and James (2008).

3. James, Wade and Bosh scored all 28 Miami points in the pivotal fourth quarter of Game 7 against Boston - Miami's first victory in a seventh game since 2004, Wade's rookie season.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Tuesday 6/12

Heat-Thunder Outlook
By Antony Dinero

No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 2 Miami

Series Price: Oklahoma City -165 Miami +145

Series Format: Oklahoma City 2-3-2

Game 1 - Tuesday, June 12
Game 2 - Thursday, June 14
Game 3 - Sunday, June 17
Game 4 - Tuesday, June 19
Game 5* - Thursday, June 21
Game 6* - Sunday, June 24
Game 7* - Tuesday, June 26

* If Necessary

Skinny: The Oklahoma City Thunder got to sit back and enjoy the 111th Game 7 in NBA history on Saturday night. As for the victorious Miami Heat, they cleared a hurdle of a 3-2 deficit to the Boston Celtics, overcoming an early fourth-quarter deficit so emphatically that it actually may have helped their confidence to have overcome flirting with disaster.

The NBA Finals the league most wanted to see has come to fruition, riding in the hype created by epic performances from LeBron James and Chris Bosh, superstars ridiculed for having to join forces with Dwyane Wade. Their effort in avoiding elimination has the feel of a graduation.

Kevin Durant, three-time scoring champ, had his own legendary coming of age in helping dispatch San Antonio. He averaged 29.5 points per game and went for 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes in the clincher, wrapping up four straight conquests of a top seed that had won 20 straight.

Defeating the Spurs appears to have been the more impressive feat. Oddsmakers have established the Thunder as -160 favorites to capture their first NBA title.

Because of the household names involved, it's intriguing that James, Wade and Bosh would ever be underdogs. They scored the final 31 Heat points in Game 7 and came together exactly as Pat Riley envisioned when he put this all together. Don't scramble your brain trying to remember when it happened last. Since coming together, they've been favored in every playoff series they've participated in, including the 2011 Finals against Dallas.

The Thunder have earned respect by amassing a 12-3 mark against the defending champion Mavericks, a Lakers team that won the two years prior and finally, the seemingly invincible Spurs.

Durant has had moments in these playoffs that have rightfully merited Michael Jordan comparisons, fitting since the three-time scoring champ faces off against the regular season MVP in a Finals for the first time since 1997 when the Bulls battled Karl Malone's Jazz. For many, their individual due is what this series will be about. James, having pulled off a historic 45-15-5 night followed by 31 and 12 with Miami facing elimination, is quieting even his loudest critics with his recent play. No one will be able to speak ill about him going forward if he denies Durant.

They'll defend each other in key situations and decide games. Both are chasing that elusive first ring, and ironically trained together in Akron during the summer lockout period for a four-day period James described as a "hell week." They're friends, but intense competitors who had this in mind all along. "I envisioned it every day we worked out," James said. "I understood what his passion was. I understood what his drive was. We pushed each other every single day."

In the two regular season meetings this year, they both scored roughly 27 points and shot the ball well, but the intensity gets ramped up well past "hell week" starting Tuesday. James owns a 7-2 edge on Durant in all-time meetings, splitting thus far in 2012.

The second All-NBA showdown in the equation features guard catalysts who will have to pick their spots but are equally capable of taking over this series.

All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook often doubles as the team's biggest question mark, but has been a willing passer when it matters most, allowing Durant to flourish. Still, his biggest contributions against the Spurs came on the defensive end against Parker and Ginobili. His shooting numbers in the four wins were poor (25-for-66, 37.9%), and also featured 16 turnovers. He'd cleaned up that part of his game, turning it over 18 times in the first 11 games of the postseason, so that will again be a point of emphasis early in the series.

Keep in mind that Westbrook hasn't had much success in the four games against the Heat in their current form. He's shot just 25-for-80 with 5.8 assists and 4.0 turnovers against their athletes and pressure.
Wade will be Miami's main variable, as he appears to be dealing with a knee issue that's contributed to slow starts. Between Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden, the Thunder are going to make sure he'll have to work at both ends. After that 2-for-13 meltdown in that memorable Game 3 loss at Indiana that saw him bicker with coach Erik Spoelstra, Wade is averaging 24.9 points and shooting over 50 percent (96-for-191). It helped that he had his knee drained before Game 4, so look for him to have some juice after multiple days between games for the first time since the Eastern Conference finals began.

Bosh's return gives the Heat an opportunity to pull Serge Ibaka away from the basket, especially if he continues to shoot the ball well. His three 3-pointers and 8-for-10 shooting in Game 7 was a difference in helping Miami rally from double-digits. He's deemed himself 99.2 percent healthy from the abdomen strain that cost him nine games this postseason, so expect him at full strength coming off a 31-minute showing. Down the road, it will be worth monitoring whether the games piling up affects his stamina, but all indications are he's kept himself in shape and will have enough in the tank to play his role.

Making Kevin Garnett work helped turn the tide against the Celtics and will be similarly important considering Ibaka's shot-blocking is such an x-factor. He's averaging 3.4 swats per game in these playoffs and is going to keep Mario Chalmers from attacking the rim the way he was able to when the Heat offense gets stagnant. Kendrick Perkins role as a post defender is diminished by Miami's lack of a true post threat between Bosh and Udonis Haslem, but his key will be showing against James in situations where he winds up switched on to him.

James Harden keys a bench that is far superior to Miami's in the clearest advantage Oklahoma City carries in the series. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year will create matchup problems and could be the difference in helping wear the Heat down. With Sefolosha around to do the dirty work throughout the course of a game, he'll be fresh in fourth quarters where as others may be feeling the crunch of a series that will demand your everything. Nick Collison is also consistently more capable than Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf as the primary frontcourt reserve.

Coaching success will not only deal with adjustments and matchups, but also management of minutes as far as Spoelstra is concerned. Brooks' edge in depth means he can afford to drive his team to be as physical as they need to be. As a result, look for OKC to dictate the pace, especially in the first two home games.

"We're an athletic, offensive team, we score at a high level, our field-goal percentage is good but we're still a defensive team," said Brooks. "We have to be able to score off our defense."

The Heat are 8-0 when scoring 100 points in these playoffs, so expect the Thunder to be driven to clamp down early. OKC hopes to utilize its edge in legs and depth to keep Miami from finding an early rhythm.

Head-to-Head Matchups: The Heat and Thunder split a pair of regular season meetings with the home team winning each time. Oklahoma City handed Miami its worst loss of the season (at the time) on March 25 at Chesapeake Energy Arena 103-87 as two-point favorites.

The Thunder led by one point after the first quarter, 25-24, but a 14-4 second quarter run helped OKC build a 60-49 advantage at the half. Durant paced the Thunder with 28 points, while Ibaka and Harden chipped in 19 points, as OKC shot 53% from the floor. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Heat, as the big three of James, Wade, and Bosh combined for 57 points. The game finished 'under' the total of 201 ½, as the two clubs put up just 81 second-half points.

Miami exacted revenge less than two weeks later with a 98-93 triumph as two- point home favorites on April 4. In this back-and-forth affair, the Heat grabbed a 50-49 advantage at the half after trailing by 11 points in the second quarter. Shane Battier drilled the first of a pair of three-pointers in the final minutes of the third quarter to give Miami an 80-73 lead heading into the fourth period. James led the Heat with 34 points, even though Miami shot just 34% from the floor. Durant and Westbrook combined for 58 points, but received very little help elsewhere in the lineup. The 'under' of 198 ½ was clinched thanks to a 38-point fourth quarter, but the two teams combined to shoot 44 of 49 from the free-throw line.

The two teams have played very even over the years, with each club capturing four matchups since the Thunder moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. Miami owns a 2-2 SU/ATS record at Chesapeake Energy Arena, with the last victory coming in January 2011, a 108-103 triumph as one-point underdogs.

Betting Notes: Oklahoma City enters this series as a favorite and deservingly so. The Thunder hold homecourt and they've taken advantage of the hostile environment, producing an 8-0 record (5-3 ATS) in the playoffs. Overall, OKC has gone 12-3 SU and 9-5-1 ATS in the playoffs, which includes a 3-3 SU and 4-1-1 ATS record on the road. Make a note that those losses were by 3, 3 and 9 points.

Miami has gone 12-6 SU and 11-7 ATS in the postseason. The Heat have struggled on the road in the playoffs, going 4-4 both SU and ATS, with the most impressive victory coming in Game 6 at Boston in the conference finals. At home, Miami has produced an 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS mark and the closest margin in these games was four points, which occurred in Game 2's win (115-111) over the Celtics.

OKC was made a five-point favorite for Game 1 and that should shift for Game 2. I would expect a drop to 4 and when the series goes back to Miami for three games, look for the Heat to be giving anywhere from 3 to 6 points.

Miami was 11-7 SU and 8-10 ATS versus the Western Conference this season, while OKC went 13-5 both SU and ATS versus the East. The Thunder only had one loss at home against an Eastern opponent, Cleveland (90-96). Also, OKC saw the 'under' go 13-5 in games versus the East this season.

The total on Game 1 was steamed from 190 to 195 and this should be the range for the series, though we have seen the oddsmakers adjust rather quickly in the postseason. OKC has watched the 'over' go 11-4 in the playoffs, while Miami has also leaned to the 'over' (10-8).

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Game 1 trends favor OKC, Under
By Chris David

For the past four playoffs in the Association, we've identified a trend for Game 1 of the NBA Finals and we're going to inform you again. Miami and Oklahoma City will meet in the opener of the finals on Tuesday from Chesapeake Energy Arena.

This will be the second straight finals appearance for the Heat and the first rodeo for the Thunder since they moved to Oklahoma City. Everybody always wants to a see a best-of-seven matchup get off on the right foot with an exciting start but that hasn't been the case lately.

Since 1998, we've seen double-digit margins in nine of the last 14 openers in the finals. Rust definitely plays a role as does the "feeling out" process of your opponents. Oklahoma City finished off San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals last Wednesday, giving the team five full days of rest. Miami wasn't as lucky, stopping Boston on Saturday in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat only had two days off and they had to travel for Game 1 as well.

In this shortened season, Oklahoma City has gone 4-1 straight up and 5-0 against the spread when playing on three days of rest or more, the lone loss coming at San Antonio (98-101) in Game 1 of the conference finals.

That loss happened on the road and we've come to realize that homecourt has been a huge advantage in Game 1 of the finals. In the last 14 openers of the NBA Finals, the home team has gone 12-2 SU, which includes Miami's win over Dallas (92-84) in the 2011 finals.

Oklahoma City opened as a four-point home favorite in Game 1 over Miami and the early betting action has pushed the number up to five at most shops. The Thunder have produced an 8-0 SU and 5-3 ATS record at home in this year's playoffs.

Miami has gone 3-0 both SU and ATS in all of its Game 1 matchups in this year's postseason but those victories came at American Airlines Arena. In the first game on the road in each series, Miami has gone 1-2 both SU and ATS.

In those three road contests, the Heat scored 87, 75 and 91 points, far less than what they've scored in South Florida. We mention those numbers because it relates to the total trend in Game 1 of the finals.

The last 14 openers have watched the 'under' go 10-3-1 and basketball bettors can tell you that a few of those 'over' winners during this stretch were very lucky. Oddsmakers opened the Game 1 total at 190 and it was spiked up to 195. It's fair to say that Miami will be facing the best offense it's faced so far and Oklahoma City will be going head-to-head against a defense that is superior to its previous opponents.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Tuesday 6/12

NBA Finals Preview

-- Home side won both meetings this year; Thunder (-1.5) won 103-87 on March 25, Miami (-3) won 98-93 at home 11 nights later.
-- Heat has won a title, although James hasn't, having lost in Finals two times. This is first time in Finals for these Thunder (old Sonics); there is popular wisdom that the first time in the Finals can be tough.
-- This is where old hand Derek Fisher comes in; he's won five rings, so his mentoring of the young Oklahoma City players is a key here.
-- Oklahoma City is deeper, but Miami has the best player.
-- Miami just won a tough 7-game series; Thunder won their series in six games, polishing off a Spurs team that had won 20 games in a row. They also knocked off defending champ Mavs and perennial power Lakers.
-- Heat beat New York-Indiana-Boston; they're just 4-4 on road so far in playoffs. This will be their first series without the home court edge.
-- Oklahoma City is 8-0 at home in playoffs (5-3 vs spread); to me, the key for them is Westbrook being a facilitator and making sure Durant has the ball in key spots.

I'm not a big fan of Miami's subs; Harden's contributions off the bench are something the Heat doesn't have. I'll take the Thunder in 7.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Tuesday 6/12

MIAMI (58 - 26) at OKLAHOMA CITY (59 - 22)

Top Trends for this game.
OKLAHOMA CITY is 45-35 ATS (+6.5 Units) in all games this season.
OKLAHOMA CITY is 19-8 ATS (+10.2 Units) against Southeast division opponents over the last 3 seasons.
OKLAHOMA CITY is 13-5 ATS (+7.5 Units) in non-conference games this season.
OKLAHOMA CITY is 38-21 ATS (+14.9 Units) revenging a loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
OKLAHOMA CITY is 4-2 against the spread versus MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
OKLAHOMA CITY is 4-2 straight up against MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
4 of 6 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

The total has gone OVER in 7 of Miami's last 9 games when playing on the road against Oklahoma City
Miami is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Oklahoma City
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Oklahoma City's last 8 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Oklahoma City's last 5 games

Miami at Oklahoma City
Miami: Miami 24-14 Under off back-to-back wins
Oklahoma City: 13-5 ATS vs. non-conference opponents

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