NBA Finals Game 2 Preview


No. 2 MIAMI HEAT at No. 2 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (Thunder lead series 1-0) Line & Total: Oklahoma City -5.5 & 196
Opening Line & Total: Thunder -4.5 & 195

After pulling away for a comfortable 11-point victory in Game 1, the Thunder try to go up 2-0 in the NBA Finals when they host the Heat again on Thursday night.

It was a tale of two halves on Tuesday as Miami led 54-47 at halftime, but was outscored by 18 points in the final two quarters and lost 105-94. Oklahoma City dominated both points in the paint (56-40) and fast-break points (24-4), which helped fuel a comeback from a deficit that was as large as 13 points in the second quarter. Thunder star SF Kevin Durant netted 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter, as he and teammate PG Russell Westbrook combined to outscore the entire Miami team in the second half, 41-40. Heat SF LeBron James scored 30 points (46% FG), but his two All-Star teammates, SG Dwyane Wade and PF Chris Bosh, combined to make just 11-of-30 FG (36.7%). Oklahoma City improved to 9-0 (6-3 ATS) on its home floor in the playoffs, outscoring these opponents by 10.7 PPG (102.9 to 92.2 PPG). Miami dropped to 4-5 (SU and ATS) on the road in the 2012 playoffs. The Thunder are also 11-2-1 ATS in their past 14 games, while the Heat fell to 2-5 ATS in their past seven contests. Miami is a dreadful 1-6 (SU and ATS) as the underdog this season, getting outscored by 12.3 PPG (99.4 to 87.1). And the Thunder aren’t likely to cool off in Game 2 based on their 15-5 ATS mark in the past two seasons after making at least half of their field-goal attempts in two straight games. The pick here is OKLAHOMA CITY to win and cover again.
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Other than their bad three-point shooting in Game 1 (5-for-17), the Thunder had the upper hand in most statistical categories, most notably FG Pct. (52% to 46%) and rebounding (43-35). Both teams have similar records this season with just one off-day in between games — Miami is 33-16 (23-26 ATS), while Oklahoma City is 34-13 (25-21-1 ATS). The Heat have been decent following an SU loss at 16-10 (13-12-1 ATS), but the Thunder are not prone to letdowns, going 41-18 (30-28-1 ATS) after an SU victory this season.

Although James led his Miami team with 30 points in Game 1, his highest total in any of his 11 career NBA Finals games, he posted a minus-11 rating and made just one basket during the first 8:15 of the fourth quarter when the Thunder pulled away. But James wasn’t the problem for the Heat, who essentially played six players (plus Mike Miller for 10 minutes and Joel Anthony for two). They faltered down the stretch against the younger, fresher Oklahoma City club, and none of the other Heat stars stepped up. SG Dwyane Wade finished with 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds, but made just 7-of-19 shots. Heading into the game, Wade had been averaging 25.2 PPG (49% FG) with 7.6 RPG and 4.6 APG in his previous five road contests. PF Chris Bosh played 33 minutes, but scored just 10 points with five rebounds (all defensive) and a game-worst minus-16 rating. In three games versus Oklahoma City this season, Bosh has a measly 5.3 RPG. SF Shane Battier had a great shooting night (6-for-9 FG, 4-for-6 threes), but scored only four of his 17 points in the second half. PG Mario Chalmers ran the point pretty well with six assists and just one turnover. He also made 5-of-7 shots (2-of-4 threes) and posted the best rating (-3) of any Heat starter.

Durant was certainly the star of Game 1 with 36 points (12-of-20 FG, 4-of-8 threes), eight rebounds, four assists and a game-high +15 rating in his 45 minutes of action. PG Russell Westbrook also had a brilliant performance, finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and just two turnovers. That was quite an improvement from his previous four meetings with Miami when he shot 31% FG with 23 assists and 16 turnovers. The one Oklahoma City player who has plenty of room to improve on Thursday is SG James Harden, who finished with just five points, zero rebounds and three assists in a foul-plagued 22 minutes of action. This was a far cry from his playoff averages of 17.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.3 APG. But his teammates picked him up, especially on the defensive end. Starting PF Serge Ibaka had 10 points and six rebounds, while back-up PF Nick Collison scored eight points (4-of-5 FG) with 10 rebounds and a +13 rating in just 21 minutes. Starting SG Thabo Sefolosha did a nice job defending James late in the game and also contributed offensively with nine points and a +14 rating.

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Cole Ryan

Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.

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