Game 1 of the NBA Finals is set to get underway as the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder go head to head. How are the odds makers looking at this matchue, and where are we placing our NBA picks in the series opener?
The time has finally come. Two teams remain but only one
will be the NBA champs.
Alongside our already published series preview, feel
free to also check out Jordan Sharp's look at how the Thunder match up with
Miami. Also, be on the lookout for Jordan's Game 1 top player and team
props come gameday.
As for the NBA odds for Game 1, Oklahoma City opened as a 4.5-point
favorite but now the betting spread can also be found at an even five.
The total has also seen some early movement, with a starting
number of 192.5 rising to 194. The UNDER has hit in four of the last five
meetings between the Thunder and Heat.
At the surface, the battle between LeBron and Kevin Durant
is going to be at the forefront of everyone's attention. There's certainly
valid reasons for that considering what those two have shown us in the playoffs
However, it's going to be the supporting casts that will
ultimately decide how Game 1 (and the entire series) goes down.
Prepare yourself for a historical series
The Heat are going to find it much easier scoring baskets
against Oklahoma City after getting bullied and beaten up by Boston's gritty
defense in the conference finals. But, at the same time, they're going to have
a lot more trouble on the other end containing KD and the rest of the OKC gang.
That's one of the main reasons I like the Thunder here in
Miami's defense, which was excellent for the most part
during the regular season, has been exposed in a major way during the playoffs,
especially in the last series against Boston. The Celtics only really had six
guys to throw at the Heat, but they still scored plenty of points against Erik
How are things going to go any better up against a
ridiculously explosive Oklahoma City squad?
Durant's going to have another huge series, the Heat are
going to have to either Wade or LeBron help on the lightning quick Westbrook
(leaving weak sides for the Thunder to exploit), and then you've got James
Harden, who can hit the toughest shots imaginable, even in the face of
All in all, Oklahoma City has averaged 102.3 PPG in the
postseason, tops of all 16 teams that have competed. They're shooting 46.9
percent from the floor and an excellent 83.5 percent from the charity stripe.
Miami is really going to have to showcase their best defense
possible if they want to avoid some beatings.
On the other side of things, sure LeBron is going to always
get his, but Wade hasn't been nearly as effective as we've seen him be in the
past. Getting Chris Bosh back is no small factor, yet Oklahoma City owns some
of the league's best defenders, especially in the post. Serge Ibaka's length
and athleticism and Kendrick Perkins' toughness could pose problems.
Who executes best in Game 1?
The Thunder have gone unbeaten at home throughout the
playoffs and have covered the spread in four straight games on their own floor
as well. They're going to come out with a ton of emotion here, no question.
Some will say Oklahoma City is too young of a team to beat
out Miami, but just look at what they've done in the playoffs.
They swept the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, beat
Kobe Bryant and the twin towers in five games in the next round and then
overcame the veteran San Antonio Spurs in the finals, a team that had won all
eight of its playoff matchups coming in. A team that many was picking to go all
the way. That's enough experience in itself.
Defensively, the Thunder have a strong interior presence and
that's going to cause a lot of problems for a Miami team that loves to drive
and get into the paint. The Heat are going to be forced into shooting a lot
more jumpers, something they should not be focusing their offense on. If shots
aren't falling for Miami, this one could get out of hand quickly.
Of course, there's always a chance LeBron goes unconscious
again and drops another 45/15/5 bombshell. However we are picking the Thunder
to get this series off to a good start with a Game 1 victory and ATS cover.
Best of luck!
FREE Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5
Heat are 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as underdogs
Thunder are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall
OVER is 5-1 in Miami's last 6 games overall
OVER is 4-1 in Oklahoma City's last 5 games overall
Road team is 11-3 ATS in the last 14 head-to-head meetings
UNDER is 4-1 in last 5 head-to-head meetings