2012 NBA Finals - Heat v. Thunder Game 1

BetOnline Sportsbook has OKC Thunder as the odds favorite by 5 points with the moneyline bet at (-235)

Here comes a big NBA Finals with Game One kicking off from Oklahoma City; and for the first time in NBA history. The home team Thunder are favored to win the game with a 5 point spread. It isn’t just home town hype that makes them the favorite; there are two good reasons to pick the Thunder for Game One: extra rest and scoring potential. The first is simple; Oklahoma has been resting since last Thursday night while Miami finished a hard fought series with Boston Saturday night. The value of fresh legs cannot be underestimated. The second demands more explanation.

Kevin Durant is a leading scorer in the NBA. He has been a 50% field goal shooter through the playoffs hitting baskets from all over the court. In the post-season Durant is the third highest scoring player. While his field goal percentage matches that of LeBron James, he possesses a significantly better three-point percentage giving him a scoring edge. As a free throw shooter Durant is equally superb, making 51 of 56 free throws against the Spurs, averaging 87% through the play-offs (again better than LeBron James). Moreover, Kevin Durant can play defense, he demonstrates great defensive rebounding skills.

During the off-season Durant and LeBron James worked out together so naturally the Durant versus James match-up is not only interesting but integral to either team’s victory Tuesday night. These two guys know each other well and they must respect each other’s capabilities. In pre-series press conferences Durant acknowledged the importance of the match-up but has also said he isn’t locked in on it. Durant has been keeping is eyes off the media and his fingers off of Twitter as he prepares with his team mates to take on the Heat. Durant and the Thunder want to make this game a team effort but they definitely cannot be successful if Durant fails to score his season average of 28 points a game.

Defensively the Miami Heat looked very strong. LeBron James is a splendid all-round player and if anyone has what it takes to slow down Kevin Durant then LeBron is the man. Chris Bosh will be a defensive threat in that his recent return from injury means he is fresh and ready to grab rebounds for the Heat. After scoring 19 points against the Celtics in Game Seven we now know that Bosh will also be an offensive weapon. Let’s not forget Udonis Haslem who has been a monster on the boards grabbing 65 rebounds during the Miami-Boston series. Contrast rebounds and Miami has a devastating advantage. However looking at the Thunder’s post-season stats and you will see they hold a clear edge in average steals per game.

From everything that the Oklahoma City players are saying in the media it sounds like we can expect them to push the ball around and demand every starter and bench player to contribute. James Harden is a fantastic bench player whose contribution will overshadow what Miami as on the bench. In fact this is pretty much true for all bench versus bench comparisons. So a 5.5 spread is reasonable for Game One given Oklahoma City’s fresh legs and high scoring potential from Durant and others. Miami will show up later in the series, however, Oklahoma City Thunder is the solid bet for Game One.

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