Game 3 of the NBA Finals is the most important chapter in the series, according to postseason history. This is the 36th time the finals have been locked at 1-1 and the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the NBA Championship 30 out of 35 times.
With that trend in mind, we talk with oddsmakers at online sportsbooks to see where the action is and where the Game 3 odds will move before the 9 p.m. ET tipoff:
Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs – Open: -2.5, Move: -2
The series swings to the AT&T Center following Miami’s blowout victory in Game 2. Oddsmakers weren’t convinced enough to make the Heat road chalk and instead pegged the defending champs as underdogs for the first time this postseason. Early money took advantage of the rare circumstances and grabbed the Heat +2.5.
“It didn't take long for us to see sharp action take the points and we went straight to Spurs -2 yesterday at around noon,” Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports.ag, told Covers. “Since going to Spurs -2, we've seen quite a bit of money on them at that price.”
According to Stewart, about 65 percent of the current handle is on San Antonio which is forcing books to think about moving back the original spread of Spurs -2.5 before game time.
“Even though we believe more sharp action will come in on the Heat if we go to 2.5, we'll be going there at some point today to protect ourselves from all the Spurs money we're seeing,” he says.
With such a tight spread, the Game 3 moneylines have also become a popular wager. Miami opened as a +120 underdog to win straight up while San Antonio opened at -140. According to Aron Black of Bet365.com, most moneyline wagers are on the Heat and have trimmed the price to Miami +115/San Antonio -135.
“Straight up odd is about 4-to-1 in favor of Miami over San Antonio,” says Black. “A lot are ignoring the small spread plus the points on Miami and taking the moneyline price at +115.”
As for the total for Game 3, most books opened at 187.5 and took early action on the over, bumping the number up a half point. Since the move, over/under action has been coming in on both sides and books expect to stay put.
“Unless a sharp group comes in on this total, I don't see us moving off the 188,” says Stewart.