Betting the 2013 NBA Finals

Is a veteran Spurs team worth a series bet against the Heat?

Originally Published: June 5, 2013
By Dave Tuley | ESPN Insider

LeBron James and Tim DuncanAP PhotoCan LeBron James win his second title or will Tim Duncan and the Spurs stop him?

LAS VEGAS -- Don't bother watching replays of the regular-season matchups between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs in order to handicap the NBA Finals that start Thursday night.

On Nov. 29, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich gave Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili the night off (and even sent them back home) when the Spurs visited Miami. Oddsmakers inflated the line to Heat minus-13 and the San Antonio backups nearly pulled off the upset before losing 105-100, easily covering the spread. Popovich was famously fined $25,000 by David Stern for "a disservice to the league" for not playing his stars in what was potentially their only trip to South Beach.

On March 31, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra did basically the same thing by sitting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade when the Heat visited San Antonio, but he avoided a fine after the Heat actually won the game 88-86 as a nine-point underdog.

Maybe both coaches were clairvoyant and figured they'd be meeting in June and didn't want to give the other coaching staff any extra game film to study. But even though these two teams haven't met at full strength in more than two years (the lone meeting in the strike-shortened 2011-12 season was played without Wade and Ginobili), these teams are certainly familiar with each other -- and handicappers know enough about them and are ready for a great series.

Let's take a look at who has the edge in Game 1 and the series.


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Dave Tuley has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website, ViewFromVegas.com.