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Thursday's betting tips: Rays SP Hellickson cashing in on under
Rain is in the forecast for both Poznan and Gdansk, the host cities for Thursday’s Euro 2012 action. Italy and Croatia play at Stadion Miejski in Poznan, where there is a 90 percent chance of rain. Spain and Ireland meet at PGE Arena in Gdansk, where there is a 70 percent chance of rain.
NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder have won five in a row SU and ATS, including a 105-94 victory over the Miami Heat as 5-point home favorites in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Oklahoma City is set as a 5.5-point favorite for Game 2.
MLB: Washington Nationals: The Nats have won six in a row heading into Friday’s series opener with the New York Yankees, who have won five straight as of Wednesday’s clash with the Atlanta Braves. Washington swept both the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in three-game road sets.
MLB: Colorado Rockies – The Rockies have lost six straight heading into Wednesday’s game with the Oakland A’s. Colorado has allowed 52 runs in that span, an average of 8.7 a night. Needless to say, the Rockies have played over in four of those six outings.
EURO: Ireland – The Irish haven’t had much luck versus Spain in international competition. They’re 4-13-7 all-time against the defending Euro and World Cup champs and are +1,200 long shots in Group C play Thursday.
0-7-2 – The Tampa Bay Rays are 0-7-2 over/under in Jeremy Hellickson’s last nine starts. The Rays host the New York Mets in interleague action Thursday.
Injury that should not be overlooked
Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays – Drabek told reporters he felt popping in his right elbow before leaving Wednesday’s game against Washington after 4 1-3 innings. Drabek isn’t a big-name pitcher but he is the second Jays starter to leave a game with an injury in the past two days. Fellow starter Brandon Morrow hit the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique Wednesday, leaving Toronto to dig extra deep into their minor league reserves.
Game of the Day
Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder (-5.5, 195.5)
“We’re going to have to have more guys in there to give me and D-Wade a rest” – Heat forward LeBron James. The Heat had six played log all but 12:13 of floor time in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, getting worn down by the Thunder in the fourth quarter.
Notes and tips
-- Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque is expected to roll out his striker-less 4-6-0 setup against Ireland Thursday. The unorthodox formation has left star Fernando Torres to come off the bench for the defending champs.
-- Teams that win Game 1 of the NBA Finals go on to win the series – and the championship – 72.3 percent of the time (47-18). Oklahoma City is a -280 series favorite over Miami, which is priced at +240. Only three teams in NBA history have come back from a 2-0 hole in the finals.
-- The Phillies have struggled against the American League, going just 1-5 in their last six interleague games heading into Wednesday’s game with Minnesota. The Twins, on the other hand, welcome National League opposition. They’re a solid 9-3 in their last 11 interleague matchups and 43-15 in their last 58 interleague home games.
THE STORY: The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder gave fans exactly what they were expecting in the opener of the NBA Finals: an action-packed, end-to-end game featuring sensational plays at both ends. Kevin Durant emerged as the hero in Game 1 and will look to lead the Thunder to victory in the second game of the best-of-seven Thursday night. Durant poured in 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder rallied from 13 points down to secure the victory.
ABOUT THE HEAT: LeBron James didn't have the kind of game that lifted Miami to victories over Boston in Games 6 and 7 of the East finals, but he was still solid in defeat. James reached the 30-point plateau in a Finals contest for the first time in his career, but it wasn't enough as he fell to 2-9 all-time in championship games. The Heat were badly outscored in transition and had no answer for Durant, who knocked down one shot after another in the pivotal final frame. James credited Oklahoma City with playing near-perfect basketball over the final 12 minutes. "They didn't make many mistakes in the fourth quarter," he said.
ABOUT THE THUNDER: Oklahoma City looked nervous in the early going, but didn't take long to shake off the jitters. Durant became the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to surpass the 35-point plateau in a Finals game, knocking down four 3-pointers and adding eight rebounds. He had plenty of help - particularly from point guard Russell Westbrook, who scored 27 points and added 11 assists and eight rebounds. The two of them outscored the Heat 41-40 in the second half. Thabo Sefolosha excelled on the defensive end, limiting James to seven points on 29 percent shooting when he was guarding him.
1. Westbrook became the first player to record 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in a Finals game since Charles Barkley accomplished the feat for the Phoenix Suns in 1993.
2. Going into this season, the team that wins the opening game of the Finals has gone on to claim the NBA championship 72 percent of the time.
3. Oklahoma City is 9-0 at home in the postseason.
Heat are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
Heat are 0-7-1 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog.
Thunder are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite.
Thunder are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games.
Over is 6-1 in Heat last 7 overall.
Over is 11-2 in Thunder last 13 games as a favorite.
The Thunder needed a massive rally to clinch the Western Conference championship over the Spurs, as Oklahoma City nearly repeated that effort in its Game 1 victory in the NBA Finals over Miami. After the Heat built a 13-point advantage halfway through the second quarter, the Thunder slowly crept back before pulling away for a 105-94 triumph to cover as five-point favorites. OKC leaned on its two young guns to take home the first franchise win in the NBA Finals since 1996.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 63 points, while scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. The Heat led 54-43 with a minute remaining in the first half before the Thunder pulled off a mini 4-0 run to cut the halftime deficit to 54-47. Miami cashed as three-point underdogs in the first half, while the 'over' of 97 ½ hit. LeBron James put together his most productive quarter in the second with 15 points, but finished with 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting from the floor.
Oklahoma City easily covered as six-point favorites in the second half by outscoring Miami, 58-40 in the final 24 minutes. The legs fell apart for Erik Spoelstra's team, playing their eighth game since Memorial Day, as Miami shot 3-for-16 from three-point range after drilling five of its first six attempts from downtown. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each struggled from the floor by making 11 of 30 shots for 30 points, even though Shane Battier picked up the slack with an impressive 17-point effort.
The Thunder won their ninth playoff game in nine tries at Chesapeake Energy Arena, as OKC improved to 6-3 ATS at home this postseason. Even though the third member of Oklahoma City's young trio, James Harden, scored just five points, Nick Collison put together a strong game off the bench by tallying eight points and pulling down 10 boards. The 'over' has hit in four consecutive contests for the Thunder, as Scott Brooks' club has eclipsed the 100-point mark in eight of the last nine games.
Obviously the biggest question is whether or not the Heat can bounce back in Game 2. Recent history says there's not a good chance at that, even though Miami was on the wrong side of a 95-93 loss to Dallas last June, as the Mavericks rebounded from a series opening loss. Over the last eight Finals, teams that lose the opener are just 3-5 SU and 3-4-1 ATS in Game 2's, while the 'over' is a strong 5-2-1 in this span.
Listed in bold below are the teams that lost the NBA Finals openers and how they fared in Game 2.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals (2004-2011)
2011 Dallas (+4.5) 95 @ Miami 93 PUSH 188
2010 Boston (+6) 103 @ L.A. Lakers 94 OVER 192.5
2009 L.A. Lakers 101 vs. Orlando (+6.5) 96 UNDER 202
2008 Boston 108 vs. L.A. Lakers (-1.5) 102 OVER 191.5
2007 San Antonio 103 vs. Cleveland (+7) 92 OVER 175.5
2006 Dallas 99 vs. Miami (+4.5) 85 UNDER 189
2005 San Antonio 97 vs. Detroit (+4.5) 76 OVER 171.5
2004 L.A. Lakers (-8) 99 vs. Detroit 91 OVER 171
The Thunder improved to 3-7 ATS the last 10 home games off a home victory in Game 1, while winning all four times in this situation in the playoffs. Miami has put together a poor 3-8 SU/ATS record since March on the road off a loss, while going 0-3 SU/ATS as an away underdog overall.
VegasInsider.com's Chris David says it's easy to follow the favorite train right now, "This year's postseason has allowed gamblers to ride some waves to the cashier. San Antonio's 20-game winning streak was incredible for bettors. Also, you know the books weren't happy that the favorites were incredible in the second round (17-5 SU, 15-7 ATS) against the number. Those runs were solid, but the last hot streak of the playoffs might be the best yet and it's quietly putting the old adage that 'Defenses win Championships' to rest."
The Thunder are putting up consistent offensive numbers, as David points out that the Thunder and 'over' is the way to go, "In this year's playoffs, Oklahoma City has watched the 'over' go 12-4 (75%) and that includes a lucky ticket in Game 1. The Heat and Thunder had a nice pace at the half with a combined 101 points but the game slowed down as the margin got close. Despite the half-court play, 'over' bettors caught 21 late points in the final three minutes and celebrated - again."
"The total for Game 2 is hovering between 195 and 196 points. Based on OKC's red-hot offense, you either pass on the rest of this series or play OKC and the 'over.' The Thunder has put up triple-digits in 11 of their 16 playoff games and the worst effort came in a 77-point performance against the Lakers in Game 2 of their second round series. I mention that affair because that's the only time gamblers would've lost both ends of the OKC-OVER combination."
David mentions the fact that there was money to be made on the Western Conference champions throughout this postseason, "If you've blindly bet Oklahoma City and the 'over' in all 16 of its playoff games for one-unit ($100), you would be sitting on a profit of $1,420. I like to believe that all things balance out in the long run but going against this current streak would take a serious argument."
The series price on the Thunder rose to -280 (Bet $280 to win $100) after their Game 1 win, while the Heat sits at +260 (Bet $100 to win $260). Basically, OKC has split the next six games to win this bet, with three of those contests at home where they are unbeaten in the playoffs.
The Thunder is listed as a slightly higher favorite in Game 2 by laying 5 ½ points after opening up as five-point 'chalk.' The game tips off at 9:00 PM EST on Thursday and can be seen nationally on ABC.