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July 30, 2014

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NBA Finals in Vegas: Sports books took hit on Heat; zig-zag calls for Spurs tonight

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Miami Heat’s Chris Andersen ties his shoes during NBA basketball practice, Saturday, June 15, 2013, in San Antonio. The Heat take on the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, with the best-of-seven games series even at 2-2.

Sports book directors may have flopped to the floor harder than Chris Bosh as game four of the NBA Finals wound down.

Unlike the minor contact Tim Duncan made with Bosh, the Miami Heat actually inflicted pain on bookmakers. They cost Las Vegas books far more than the $5,000 the NBA fined Bosh for his embellishment, too.

Miami’s 109-93 victory at San Antonio Thursday was akin to the possibility of Tony Parker tearing his hamstring for sports books — the worst-case scenario.

The Heat in game four were the most popular wager of the series so far. They opened as a 2-point underdog before getting bet all the way to a 1-point favorite at tipoff.

That the game also went over the 187-point total, which the public parlayed with Miami at a large clip, added an extra burn to oddsmakers.

The memorable down-to-the-wire contests everyone expected this series to produce a week ago are nowhere to be found. There’s been no late-game drama or point-spread suspense since game one, when the Spurs upset the Heat 92-88, with the winning team covering the spread by an average of more than 20 points.

The Heat are now favored to win the series at a price of minus-270 (risking $2.70 to win $1) with the Spurs coming back at plus-230 (risking $1 to win $2.30). That means oddsmakers give the Heat a 71 percent chance to win the title, an even higher mark than when the series began.

But sports books, somewhat surprisingly, aren’t as exposed on the Heat for Sunday’s game five. Despite a line move that saw the spread move from a pick’em to Miami minus-1.5, reports indicate close to even action on both sides.

Sports books are probably attracting some extra San Antonio supporters because of the power of the zig-zag theory. The common NBA Playoffs gambling approach, which dictates betting the previous game’s losing team on the spread, is undefeated in the finals.

Everyone’s heard about the Heat’s 12-0 against the spread run when coming off of a loss by now, but not as much has been made about their recent dismal performances following wins. Miami hasn’t covered two games in a row since early May, when it was facing Chicago in the second round of the playoffs.

The Spurs, meanwhile, have lost only four times in the postseason. They covered in the following game in each of the previous three instances.

It would take one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history for the Spurs to win the title if they don’t make it four in a row tonight.

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

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