Game 4 in the NBA Finals may have delivered another slight shock if you focus too much on what the bookmakers tell you but to be fair, the game followed the pattern of what we have seen so far. This was the third away victory on the spin in the series and once again, the Spurs were too dominant for the Heat to get by. The 107-86 victory in Miami sees the Spurs open up a 3-1 lead and in a best-of-seven series, the Spurs can almost taste the glory. The Heat now that they need to win all three remaining games to retain their title but you have to wonder if they have the energy and motivation left to haul the Spurs back.
The Heat had been on a lengthy streak of not losing back to back end-of-season games but that came crashing down around them and possibly, so did their hopes of a third NBA Finals triumph in a row. Once again Kawhi Leonard delivered a sterling performance for the Spurs, his second excellent game in a row, and he is a player that finally looks accustomed to the big time. Leonard delivered 20 points and 14 rebounds over the course. He may have been outscored by LeBron James, who collected 28 points and 8 rebounds but it was Leonard who was all smiles at the end.
Spurs fast starts have served them well
A feature of the Spurs’ performances in the Finals has been a blistering start and this was once again the foundation of the victory. 26-17 and 29-19 wins in the first two quarters saw the Spurs lead 55-33 at half-time. They followed this up with another triumph in the third quarter (26-21) and it wasn’t until the final quarter that the heat outscored their opponent with a 26-29 margin. This was nowhere near enough and long before the end, the Heat fans in the American Airlines Arena were steeling themselves for a major disappointment. It’s not impossible to pull this back, and the Heat still have some of the best players in modern day basketball but with three wins out of four games already, you have to fancy Spurs to grab at least one more win in their next three games. Nerves can sometimes get to players in this position though and Spurs will have to earn that remaining victory that will see them crowned champions for the season.
History is not on the side of the Heat though, certainly not in the modern day NBA Finals format. No team in modern day NBA Finals history has clinched the title from a 3-1 deficit so the Heat will need to make history if 2014 is going to their year. Game 5 takes place in San Antonio on Sunday night and even if Miami were to grab a win in their next two games, levelling the series at 3-3, the decisive game will be played out in Miami.
Last season, the Heat trailed 3-2 with two games to go and stepped up to win the Finals, so they know what it takes to come from behind. The Spurs team, coaches and players may find that battling the memories and demons from last season’s reversal may be the more difficult opponent in the next few days.
Bwin think the Spurs will win Game 5 and are offering odds of 1.50 while they offer odds of 2.65 for the Heat to keep the Finals alive. The Bwin odds for the Heat to win the series are now at 1.07 and the Heat are priced at 9.00 so they clearly think it is all but over. Bet365 are yet to price up Game 5 but for the series, they have the Heat at 1.050 and the Heat at 12.00. The online sportsbooks have rarely been right in predicting the individual matches but surely they won’t get it wrong in backing Spurs so strongly for 2014 NBA Finals success.