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Home - Miami Heat Favored in Game 1 of NBA Finals Against San Antonio Spurs

  Heat favored in Game 1 of NBA Finals against Spurs

lebron jamesThe Miami Heat finally closed out the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night, sealing their third straight trip to the championship. They're set to face a well-rested San Antonio Spurs team that swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals all the way back on May 27.

However, the Heat are still favored by 5.5 points in Game 1 of the Finals.

"You never want to take anything for granted," Miami star Dwyane Wade said of the Heat's Game 7 blowout of the Pacers. "Being here three straight years in a row, going back to the Finals, is an amazing feat. I'm just glad we were able to do it. Everything that happened in the first six games didn't mean anything to us. It was about tonight. It was about Game 7. It was about finding a way to win here at home."

Though teams that go through a seven-game series rarely perform well in the first game of the next series (the Oklahoma City Thunder won Game 1 of the Finals last year against the Heat after they went seven games against the Boston Celtics), the Heat could actually benefit this year from the short rest.

The San Antonio Spurs are one of the oldest teams in the NBA, and while their extended rest will benefit them, it's also guaranteed to have made the rusty. The Heat, meanwhile, should feel like they've been set free after dealing with a brutal and physical Pacers team for nearly two weeks of play.

That physicality, or lack thereof, is what will define this series for the Miami Heat. They're coming off a seven-game war with the Pacers, who feature two of the NBA's most dominant interior players in center Roy Hibbert and power forward David West. They had to scrap and earn every single point they scored in the paint against those two big men, but the Spurs lack that same kind of elite rim protection.

Tim Duncan and center Tiago Splitter are good players, but they don't add up to the defensive wrecking crew that Indiana's interior duo did. You can expect Miami to return to their favored small-ball lineups, featuring knock-down three-point shooters like Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Mike Miller, because they can. They will no longer have to worry about their inability to score in the paint.

Meanwhile, the Spurs have quietly had another dominant postseason run, just like they always do. Point guard Tony Parker has been sensational, slashing to the basket seemingly at will; he scored 37 points against the Memphis Grizzlies in the deciding game of the Western Conference Finals. However, the Heat have some of the best perimeter defense in the NBA, especially LeBron James.

Though everybody knows James is a superstar, he rarely gets enough credit for his defensive capabilities; he completely shut down Pacers rising star Paul George in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, holding him to just seven points on 2-9 shooting.

With all that being said, I don't think the Heat will cover the spread for Game 1.The Heat are too tired, and the Spurs are simply too well-rested. However, I would fully expect the Heat to win the series in six games.

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