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2014 NBA Finals: Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs Game 5 Preview

Today’s Game (All times are Eastern):

 

Time (ET) Visitor Home Prediction
8:00 PM Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs Heat

The 2014 NBA Finals shift back to San Antonio with the Spurs holding a commanding 3-1 series lead over the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat.  In the history of the NBA Finals every team that has taken a 3-1 series lead has gone on to win the title.  San Antonio, who is just one win away from earning the franchise’s fifth NBA championship, can become the 32nd team to take advantage of a 3-1 Finals lead with a victory in Sunday night’s Game 5.

After surrendering home-court advantage in a two-point, 98-96, loss in Game 2 in San Antonio last Sunday, June 8, the Spurs went to Miami and totally dominated the Heat.  San Antonio won Games 3 and 4 in Miami by a combined 40 points.  In Game 3, it was San Antonio’s offense that destroyed the Heat.  And in Game 4, the Spurs defense held Miami to a postseason-low 86 points.  In fact, San Antonio’s defense has gotten the job done all series long.  The Heat are averaging just 92.8 points through the first four games and have yet to reach the century mark during the Finals.

Prior to a 21-point loss in Thursday night’s Game 4, Miami had gone more than two years without suffering consecutive playoff losses.  The last time the Heat lost two straight postseason games—they actually lost three in a row, and that was back in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.  Miami went on to win that series and every playoff series it has played in since.  If Miami wants to extend this series and keep its hopes of winning a third straight NBA championship alive, the Heat must do all that they can to avoid dropping a third consecutive playoff game.

Absolutely everything is on the line for Miami, and the Heat will have to play with a desperation and urgency that has simply eluded them thus far in this series if they want to extend their season.  Facing elimination, the Heat will have to put whatever they have left in the tank on the line in Game 5.

I picked the Spurs to win the series in seven games because I believed the teams were relatively evenly matched.  But there is nothing—and I mean nothing—that happened in Games 3 and 4 that suggests these teams are evenly matched.  San Antonio held the lead for more than 43 of the 48 minutes of playing time in the two games in Miami and most of the time the lead was 10 points or more.

However, with that being said, each game of a series is separate of all the others, and Game 5 is a new entity in and of itself.  So despite San Antonio’s dominance in Miami, the Heat will have a chance to turn things around in Game 5 in San Antonio.  Besides, for my original prediction to have any chance at coming to fruition, Miami must win Game 5.

Since falling to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Heat have faced five elimination games, including Games 6 and 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the Spurs.  Miami has won those five games by an average of 13 points.  The Heat need to keep that streak alive in their first elimination game of these playoffs if they want to keep their season and any hopes of a three-peat alive.

Thursday’s Results:

 

Visitor Home Prediction Result
San Antonio Spurs 107 Miami Heat 86 Heat Spurs

Random NBA Fan’s Record in Yesterday’s Games: 0-1
Random NBA Fan’s Record for the Playoffs: 55-33

***Unlike my regular-season game-by-game predictions, which are made well before the beginning of the season, my game-by-game playoff predictions will be made day-by-day as the playoffs progress. This is mainly to avoid the mess that will be made whenever one of my predictions goes awry.***

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2014 NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat Game 4 Preview

Today’s Game (All times are Eastern):

 

Time (ET) Visitor Home Prediction
9:00 PM San Antonio Spurs Miami Heat Heat

Led by the impressive play of Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs simply put on an offensive clinic in the first half of Game 3.  San Antonio made 19 of their first 21 shots and ultimately finished the first half with 71 points on 25-for-33 shooting.  Leonard made his six first shorts and finished the half with 18 of his game-high 29 points.

The Spurs used their hot start to jump out to a 21-point, 71-50, halftime lead over the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.  Miami made a third-quarter run and cut the lead to seven at the 1:59 mark of the third.  But on the very next possession, Marco Belinelli hit a three (his only bucket of the game) to push the lead back up to 10 and the Heat never threatened again. The Spurs earned a 111-92 road win to take a 2-1 series lead and regain home-court advantage.

That was Miami’s first home loss during these playoffs and their first postseason loss at AmericanAirlines Arena since dropping Game 1 of last season’s Finals to the Spurs.  The Heat have not lost consecutive playoff games since dropping three straight to the Boston Celtics during the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals and they haven’t lost two straight playoff games at home since losing Games 2 and 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals.

Miami will have to avoid a second straight loss and keep both of those streaks alive if the Heat hope to tie this series at two games apiece.  If the Heat play the type of defense that they played in the second half of Game 3, where they held the Spurs to just 40 points on 41.9 percent shooting, for 48 minutes in Game 4, this series will likely head back to San Antonio for a pivotal Game 5 tied 2-2.

Tuesday’s Results:

 

Visitor Home Prediction Result
San Antonio Spurs 111 Miami Heat 92 Heat Spurs

Random NBA Fan’s Record in Yesterday’s Games: 0-1
Random NBA Fan’s Record for the Playoffs: 55-32

***Unlike my regular-season game-by-game predictions, which are made well before the beginning of the season, my game-by-game playoff predictions will be made day-by-day as the playoffs progress. This is mainly to avoid the mess that will be made whenever one of my predictions goes awry.***

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2014 NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat Game 3 Preview

Today’s Game (All times are Eastern):

 

Time (ET) Visitor Home Prediction
9:00 PM San Antonio Spurs Miami Heat Heat

With 6:43 remaining in Game 2 Mario Chalmers was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul for elbowing Tony Parker in the midsection. At the time of the foul, the Spurs held a two-point, 87-85, lead, and, with two free throws and possession of the ball coming their way, they had an opportunity to bump their lead up to six points or more in a close game that had been played within plus or minus six points since the 8:29 mark of the second quarter. But Parker missed both free throws and on the ensuing possession, Tim Duncan gets fouled in the act of shooting, goes to the line and misses two more free throws.

And just 24 seconds later, LeBron James hit a 24-foot three pointer to give Miami an 88-87 lead. I won’t say that that sequence of events decided the game—San Antonio did in fact take a 93-92 lead with 2:26 remaining in the game—but in a game that was ultimately decided by two points, I will say that the Spurs and their fans wish that at least half of those four free throws had gone done.

But they didn’t and now the series shifts to Miami, where the two-time defending NBA champions have won 11 straight playoff games. The Heat have not dropped a postseason game at AmericanAirlines Arena since losing Game 1 of last season’s NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs.

Miami now holds home-court advantage in this series, and if the Heat can stretch their 11-game home postseason winning streak to 14 Miami would earn their third consecutive NBA championship. But the Heat did not become two-time defending champions by looking ahead. They understand that each game of each series is an entity in and of itself and that the only thing that matters right now is Game 3. The Heat also understand that things will not get easier simply because they are coming home. Miami knows that it will have to play even better than it did in Game 2 to come away with a victory in Game 3. The Heat also know that snatching home-court advantage away from the Spurs in Game 2 will mean absolutely nothing if they give it right back to them with a Game 3 loss.

After winning an NBA-high 30 road games during the regular season, the Spurs have struggled on the road this postseason. San Antonio is just 3-5 in games away from the AT&T Center and has lost at least one road game in the first three rounds of these playoffs.

Sunday’s Results:

 

Visitor Home Prediction Result
Miami Heat 98 San Antonio Spurs 96 Spurs Heat

Random NBA Fan’s Record in Sunday’s Games: 0-1
Random NBA Fan’s Record for the Playoffs: 55-31

***Unlike my regular-season game-by-game predictions, which are made well before the beginning of the season, my game-by-game playoff predictions will be made day-by-day as the playoffs progress. This is mainly to avoid the mess that will be made whenever one of my predictions goes awry.***

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2014 NBA Finals: Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs Game 2 Preview

Today’s Game (All times are Eastern):

 

Time (ET) Visitor Home Prediction
8:00 PM Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs Spurs

The Miami Heat, particularly LeBron James, could not handle the heat inside of the AT&T Center in Thursday’s Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. With 3:59 remaining in the game and the Spurs up by two, 94-92, James suffered severe cramps and left the game for good. Without James on the floor for the Heat, San Antonio heated up and totally dominated the end of the game.

The Spurs made six of their final seven shots, including four for four from three-point land, en route to a game-closing 16-3 run and a 110-95 Game 1 victory. That was San Antonio’s 11th straight Game 1 win to open a playoff series. The Spurs are also a perfect 6-0 in NBA Finals Game 1s, including a 92-88 road win over the Heat to open last season’s Finals.

San Antonio was able to maintain those Game 1 winning streaks despite committing a ghastly 23 turnovers Thursday night. The Spurs have now won nine consecutive postseason games at the AT&T Center by an average of 20.8 points. If San Antonio wants to extend that streak to an even 10 games, the Spurs will have to take much better care of the basketball in tonight’s Game 2.

Miami has not suffered consecutive playoff losses since dropping three straight games to the Boston Celtics during the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Despite those three straight losses, the Heat went on to win that series and every playoff series that they have played in since. Since that series against the Celtics, the two-time defending champions have rebounded from their 11 postseason losses by beating the opponent by an average of 15.1 points in the very next game, including three rebound victories by an average of 12.7 points per game over the Spurs in last season’s Finals. That includes a 103-84 home win over the Spurs in Game 2 of last season’s Finals.

Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals will result in either San Antonio extending its postseason home winning streak to 10 games or Miami rebounding from a playoff loss for the 13th consecutive time. One of these two things will occur tonight and which one it will be remains to be seen. But the Spurs have been pretty dominant at home this postseason and I don’t foresee them turning the ball over quite as much tonight as they did in Thursday night’s Game 1. Home court and fewer miscues should be enough to help San Antonio hand the Heat consecutive playoff losses for the first time in over two years.

Thursday’s Results:

 

Visitor Home Prediction Result
Miami Heat 95 San Antonio Spurs 110 Spurs Spurs

Random NBA Fan’s Record in Thursday’s Games: 1-0
Random NBA Fan’s Record for the Playoffs: 55-30

***Unlike my regular-season game-by-game predictions, which are made well before the beginning of the season, my game-by-game playoff predictions will be made day-by-day as the playoffs progress. This is mainly to avoid the mess that will be made whenever one of my predictions goes awry.***

2014 NBA Finals: Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs Game 1 Preview

Today’s Game (All times are Eastern):

 

Time (ET) Visitor Home Prediction
9:00 PM Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs Spurs

How healthy is Tony Parker? Parker, who missed the entire second half of San Antonio’s Game 6 clincher over the Oklahoma City Thunder last Saturday, has had four full days to rest and rehab his sprained left ankle. The extra rest should bode well for the Spurs’ All-Star point guard, who will need to play at a high level to give San Antonio its best chance at protecting its home floor.

The Miami Heat have not played a game in nearly a full week, how much will rust play a factor in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals? The Spurs got some much-needed rest before the start of the Finals, but rust may be an issue for them as well. However, San Antonio has been resting for a little less time than the Heat and the Spurs will be playing at home.

San Antonio knows that had they had home-court advantage and the luxury of playing Game 7 of last season’s Finals at the AT&T Center that they very well could have won the NBA championship last year. Basically, the Spurs understand how important home-court advantage can be, especially when two teams are so evenly matched (San Antonio outscored Miami 684-679 in last season’s seven-game series), and they will do everything that they need to do to make sure that they do not squander it so early in the series.

San Antonio has opened 10 straight playoff series with Game 1 wins, has won eight straight home games this postseason and is 9-1 at home during these playoffs. Look for the Spurs to protect their home court at all costs, win their ninth straight postseason game at home, and earn their 11th consecutive Game 1 victory as they begin the process of trying to redeem themselves after last season’s bitter disappointment.

Last Saturday’s Results:

 

Visitor Home Prediction Result
San Antonio Spurs 112 OT Oklahoma City Thunder 107 Spurs Spurs

Random NBA Fan’s Record in Last Saturday’s Games: 1-0
Random NBA Fan’s Record for the Playoffs: 54-30

***Unlike my regular-season game-by-game predictions, which are made well before the beginning of the season, my game-by-game playoff predictions will be made day-by-day as the playoffs progress. This is mainly to avoid the mess that will be made whenever one of my predictions goes awry.***

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