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Playoff Journal, June 12

   by Larry Ness - 06/12/2014

NBA Playoff Journal (June 10)

The Spurs raced out to a 41-25 lead by the end of the first quarter of Game 3. San Antonio made 19 of its first 21 shots and finished the first half 25 of 33, setting an NBA Finals record by connecting on 75.8% of its shots. The Spurs scored 71 first-half points and led by 21. The second half was only a formality, with the Spurs winning 111-92. Popovich made what turned out to be a key decision before Game 3, choosing to start Boris Diaw in place of Tiago Splitter. It turned out to be a nice move by “Pop,” to say the least. Diaw had a plus-minus of +20, a team-high. He had a plus-minus of +30 in Game 1. Through the first three games, Diaw has a total plus-minus of +45, which is the 2nd-highest through Game 3 of the NBA Finals in the last 15 years! The Spurs also got a career-high 29 points from Kawhi Leonard, who had totaled just 18 points in the first two games of the Finals.

Now it’s Miami’s turn to make the adjustments (the charge of head coach Erik Spoelstra) and for the players (specifically LBJ), to counter! If not, the Heat will be heading back to San Antonio down 3-1 (remember it’s back to a 2-2-1-1-1 format this year) and in “BIG trouble!” However, the Heat are in familiar territory, as in last year’s Finals, the Spurs routed them 113-77 in Game 3 but the Heat responded with a 109-93 win in Game 4. LBJ scored 33 with 11 rebounds, Wade got 32 and Bosh added 20 & 13, as the Heat shot 52.9% while holding the Spurs to 44.3 percent shooting.

That’s the formula the Heat will need to use here. Their “Big 3” have to come up HUGE, because the Heat are getting badly outplayed at the point-guard position plus, other than Ray Allen, Miami is getting almost NOTHING from the rest of its reserves.
Starting PG Mario Chalmers has been a complete non-factor in the series and missed all five of his FG attempts while scoring just two points in Game 3. Chalmers is averaging just 3.3 PPG in the series so far, on 3-of-12 shooting and has the same number of turnovers as assists (nine apiece). “Still at the drawing board,” Chalmers said after Game 3 in response to questions about his poor play. “Everybody else is doing their job, and it’s me that’s not helping the team right now. And I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t know what it is right now but I have to figure it out.”

Then there is Miami’s bench. Allen had 25 points in the first two games, while the rest of Miami’s reserves scored a total of just SEVEN points. In the Game 3 blowout, Allen had 11 and SEVEN others combined for a modest 12 points, despite the second half pretty much qualifying as “garbage time” (note: Cole scored EIGHT of those 12 points!). While LBJ (in particular, like in Game 2 TY and Game 4 LY) Wade and Bosh will need to do the bulk of the scoring, the Heat team D has to respond. The Spurs shot 58.8% in Game 1 and then after ‘cooling off’ in the second half, finished at 59.4% for Game 3, scoring 110 and 111 points, respectively. That HAS to change!

The question is WILL it? Game 4 is on ABC at 9:00 ET. The Heat are favored by five points and the total is 197. Home teams are 49-38 (.563) this postseason and a ‘money-burning’ 38-46-3 ATS (45.2% or minus-12.6 net games). Over players continue to “get the best of it,” cashing 50 of 87 times (57.5%), while “Zig-Zaggers” are 2-0 in the Finals, guaranteeing a profit at 39-30-3 ATS (plus-6.0 net games), as at most, this year’s postseason has just FOUR games remaining. Is this series going seven? Not if the Heat don’t win tonight!

Game 5 is not until Sunday, back in San Antonio. Next Journal on Sunday by 12 noon ET. Stay tuned.

Good luck...Larry

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