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April 23, 2014

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NBA Finals: As easy as betting Heat in the first half and Thunder in the second?

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) fouls Miami Heat small forward LeBron James during the second half at Game 2 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 14, 2012, in Oklahoma City.

Sunday's Game Three

  • Spread: — Oklahoma City +4 @ Miami
  • Moneyline: — Oklahoma City +165 @ Miami -185
  • Total: — o/u 193.5
  • Talking Points' Pick: — Heat 101, Thunder 89
  • Numbers from Cantor Gaming

A simple strategy through two games could have enabled NBA Finals bettors to produce as much green as a vegan farmer.

If anyone decided to bet the Miami Heat in the first half of both games and come back on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second half, then congratulations to them.

They’re probably spending the weekend doing some high-end shopping on the Strip. Or blowing their profits at the roulette table.

The Heat stormed out to 7- and 12-point leads, respectively, in the first two games of the series in Oklahoma City last week.

Impressive? Sure. But probably not as much as the way the Thunder have outscored the Heat by a combined 111-85 in the two second halves.

Oklahoma City easily covered the 5.5-point halftime spread in Game One to beat Miami outright. The Thunder couldn’t complete the comeback in Game Two — though Dwyane Wade’s Humpty Dumpty impersonation while handling the ball late gave them a chance — but managed to cover the second-half line anyway.

It should be interesting to see if the trend holds when the NBA Finals takes its talents to South Beach for Game Three on Sunday night.

The line has settled at -4 in favor of the Heat at most books around town. Oddsmakers have sided with Miami for the first time in this series, which also means it will be favored in the first half for a change.

The Heat are 2.5-point favorites over the Thunder in the opening 24 minutes. As brilliant as Kevin Durant has played with a series-leading 68 points, he’s been largely absent in the first halves and averaged only 10 points.

No such slow starts have plagued LeBron James. An unlikely contribution of six first-half 3-pointers from Shane Battier has also helped the Heat lightning to big leads.

Slow starts for the Thunder and careless finishes for Heat have emerged as the stories of the 2012 NBA Finals so far. Gamblers would be wise to remember that as they step to the betting window Sunday.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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