How to bet the NBA Finals

Do the San Antonio Spurs or Miami Heat present the best value?

Updated: June 4, 2014, 2:18 PM ET
By Dave Tuley | ESPN Insider

Dwyane Wade, Tim DuncanMike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesDwyane Wade and Tim Duncan square off in a repeat of last season's NBA Finals.

LAS VEGAS -- The 2014 NBA postseason is being called the most exciting of all time.

We've had down-to-the-buzzer games and competitive series throughout. From a betting perspective, underdogs have dominated with a record of 51-31-1 against the spread (62.2 percent), but when all the powder had settled, it was the two biggest favorites -- the two-time defending champion Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs -- that will meet in the best-of-seven NBA Finals that begin Thursday night.

When the playoffs started nearly two months ago, the Heat were the 9-5 favorites to win it all at the LVH SuperBook here in Vegas, and the 5-8 favorite to win the Eastern Conference despite being the No. 2 seed behind the Indiana Pacers. The Spurs were the 5-2 second choice to win the title and the 5-4 favorite to survive a deeper field in the Western Conference.

The Heat pretty much rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers as they've won 12 of 15 games and are 10-5 ATS in the postseason. The Spurs started slow in their series against the Dallas Mavericks, actually starting 0-6 ATS before winning Game 7 in a blowout, but are now 12-6 SU and 9-9 ATS overall.

When the Spurs eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 in overtime last Saturday, the LVH made the Finals a pick 'em proposition with a series price of minus-110 on each team, but most Vegas books made the Spurs a slight favorite at minus-120 with the Heat at even money, and it's been bet higher the past few days. As of early Tuesday, the consensus series price is Spurs minus-130/Heat plus-110.

The Spurs are favored in part because they have home-court advantage (last year, the Heat had home court and prevailed in Game 7 in Miami). Also of note is the fact that this year we're using a 2-2-1-1-1 format in the Finals. The 2-3-2 format was used the previous 29 years.

Let's take a look at the matchup from a Vegas point of view, starting with the updated power ratings from Erin Rynning of sportsmemo.com, WunderdogSports.com and yours truly. 

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