Nobody has been better late in games this season than LeBron James. Perhaps the superstar learned a lesson from his poor fourth-quarter play versus the San Antonio Spurs in last year's NBA finals.
James, coming off another clutch performance for the Cleveland Cavaliers, faces the Spurs for the first time since a subpar showing in the 2007 NBA finals as the teams meet at AT&T Center on Thursday night.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made San Antonio -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 183.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland +8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
San Antonio cemented itself among the league's greatest franchises with a sweep of Cleveland in June, earning its fourth title in nine years. James gave Cavaliers fans hope, but Cleveland averaged just 80.5 points per game in the series and its star failed to figure out how to beat the Spurs' defensive schemes.
James averaged 22.0 points in the series, but shot just 35.6 percent from the field and had some costly miscues in the fourth quarter of the Cavs' 83-82 loss on June 14 in the series finale. He had six turnovers in that game, finishing the series with 23.
Games 1 and 2 were never really close enough for James to take over in the second half as Cleveland lost by a total of 20 points. Game 3 was close, but James missed consecutive shots with the Cavs trailing by four, and later didn't get a foul call when he appeared to draw contact while trying to shoot a potential game-tying 3-pointer in a 75-72 loss.
The closing minutes of games in this season have gone much differently for James, who is averaging a league-best 9.4 points in the fourth quarter. On Tuesday night, James scored a season-high 51 points, including a combined 25 in the fourth quarter and overtime, to lead Cleveland (20-18) to a 132-124 win over Memphis.
It was the fourth time the league's leading scorer has reached 50 points in his career.
"We have a fourth-quarter team right now that's playing really good basketball," said James, who is averaging 29.8 points a contest. "We didn't get stops like we usually get, but for some odd reason, we know how to execute on the offensive end. We make plays, and we make big plays."
Tuesday's contest started a stretch in which the Cavs will play six of eight games on the road. James is averaging 40.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists in his last three road games.
San Antonio (25-11), though, is a league-best 19-3 at home, holding opponents to 89.4 points per game. The Spurs have won three of their last five games overall, but were held under 90 points in three of those contests.
"You have to hope that people will keep shooting their shots and we keep getting open shots," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. "Sometimes they don't go in but you can't let that make your defense go sour."
Manu Ginobili hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter - his only baskets of the game - to lead the Spurs to an 89-82 victory over Philadelphia on Monday night.
Ginobili scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth after going 0-for-6 from the field through the first three quarters. He had 27 points in last year's NBA finals clincher, and shot 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from beyond the arc in the series.
Tony Parker was the 2007 NBA finals MVP, averaging 24.5 points per game, and tops San Antonio this season with 20.1 points per game.
San Antonio lost both of its regular-season meetings with Cleveland in 2006-07.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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