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July 30, 2014

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NBA Finals in Vegas: Heat vs. Spurs Game 3 betting preview, odds and picks

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San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) and Gregg Popovich talk during the first half in Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals against the Miami Heat, on Thursday, June 5, 2014 in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014 | 12:35 p.m.

Tuesday's Game 3

  • Spread: San Antonio plus-4.5 at Miami
  • Moneyline: San Antonio (plus-170) at Miami (minus-200)
  • Total: Over/under 199 points
  • Talking Points pick: Heat minus-4.5 (1-1)

Game 3 Player Over/Unders

  • Tim Duncan points: 19.5
  • Manu Ginobli points: 15.5
  • Kawhi Leonard points: 13.5
  • Tim Duncan rebounds: 10.5
  • LeBron James points: 29.5
  • Dwyane Wade points: 19
  • Chris Bosh points: 16.5
  • Ray Allen points: 11.5
  • Talking Points pick: Ray Allen over 11.5 points (1-1)
  • All numbers come from the Station Casinos.

Superlatives regarding this year’s NBA Finals are getting tossed around with as much force as a cross-court LeBron James chest pass.

A series between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs was called an ideal scenario, a dream matchup and the most anticipated finals in years before it began. Through two games, someone would be hard-pressed to find a fan let down by the action.

Aside from the closing minutes of Game 1, barely a moment has passed where the result wasn’t in question. Uncertainty has infiltrated the overall outlook, as next to no one can feel overly comfortable siding with one team or the other going forward.

That extends to the bastion of sports prognostication: The Las Vegas betting market. Sports books can’t figure out which team to favor winning the NBA Finals, as they’ve conspicuously come up with a different answer before each of the first three games.

Neither team was the favorite before the series began, as many sports books went with a pick’em line. The Spurs captured the chalk before Game 2. The Heat went back to where they spent all season at the top of the betting board with Sunday’s 98-96 road victory.

Miami is minus-145 (risking $1.45 to win $1) with San Antonio coming back at plus-125 (risking $1 to win $1.25) heading into Game 3, which tips at 6 tonight in South Florida’s American Airlines Arena.

Shrewd gamblers who took the Heat at plus-185 Sunday can lock in a guaranteed profit by betting the Spurs now. That’s a sure sign of a competitive series.

The game-by-game lines haven’t been anything out of the ordinary, though. With Miami favored at a minus-4.5 clip tonight, the average line through three games is the home team giving 4.66 points.

That falls directly in line with Finals series from four of the past five years where the average has been somewhere in between 4.5 and 5 points. The exception was the 2011 series between the Heat and the Mavericks where the mean spread was closer to 3.5 points.

The first two games of the 2011 series were decided by a total of 10 points, the lowest margin in the last decade. The 17 combined points that have separated the first two games this year rates out highly, as they account for the third fewest in the last 10 years.

So it’s safe to say Heat vs. Spurs II has lived up to the hype, but hard to tell what that means for Game 3. In the last 10 years, the team going home in Game 3 is 5-5 straight-up and 4-6 against the spread.

It’s the fifth straight year the NBA Finals have started tied 1-1, meaning the sports books’ flip-flopping series odds are nothing new.

But this year’s Finals feel different. They feel closer. They feel special.

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

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