2012 NBA Finals - Heat v. Thunder Game 3

Miami Heat are 4 1/2 point favorites going into Game 3. BetOnline has the moneyline bet at (-190). Place your NBA Finals bets at BetOnline Sportsbook

In Game Two the favored Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Miami Heat 100-96. In Game One OKC overcame their shoddy first quarter start but not so in Game Two. Going 18-2 after eight minutes the Thunder did not have an answer for the Heat until the second quarter began. Once again Scott Brooks went with the same starting lineup he has used all year and the deficit was too much to climb back from. This decision has not gone unnoticed in the past but after two such first quarter deficits in the NBA Finals everyone is wondering if Brooks will make a seemingly better coaching decision by changing his starters.

Erik Spoelstra has claimed that Miami is playing more to its character than before and this may be true. It is hard to know if Miami’s success in Game Two was due to improved team cohesion or poor play by OKC. Nevertheless, the Miami Heat are the favored team for Game Three at a 4 point spread and an over/under of 194. Currently there is no favorite on the over/under which reflects the uncertainty that is rife in this series. Game One Dwyane Wade is cold on points, and then, Game Two he is hot. Game One Chris Bosh is improved but not amazing, Game Two he is starting, scoring more points and grabbing way more rebounds. Without a change in the OKC starting lineup it looks like Spoelstra and the Heat have found a way to produce more, and earlier, than the Thunder and it works. Can they keep this up? There’s two ways to look at that question. Either Spoelstra is out coaching Brooks and the Thunder’s talent is allowing them to stay competitive; or, OKC is not the better team and Miami is on the rise with new life from Bosh and Shane Battier.

Likely the home court shift to Miami will not hurt or help either team. Both teams have shown great resilience throughout each game whether up or down on the scoreboard. If Brooks will not change his starting five then at the least the Thunder need to pick it up on defense to give them a better chance to comeback from an early deficit. Rebound and steal numbers were almost embarrassing from OKC in Game Two and that cannot become a trend if they are to win at least one game in Miami. The good news is that OKC has had much better defensive stats in the playoffs this year than has Miami. Whatever the explanation for such inconsistent play in this series, all teams have a character and the stats usually tell that story unless there is a radical change to the team due to injury or departure of key members. Neither of these occurred. Therefore we can expect to see OKC get back to playing better defense while in Miami, working the boards, stealing balls and blocking shots. Given OKC’s tenacity for closing an early deficit this might even suggest that, in the long-run, they are the better team offensively and defensively.

Game Three will likely be a telling tale of where the next three games will go. If Oklahoma City can resolve their first quarter scoring issue, and even if they lose Game Three, Thunder fans have a reason to believe in a championship. If Miami not only wins but continues to see increased participation and scoring from players outside of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, look for the Heat to win by Game Six.

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