The NBA Finals were over.
With the Heat down 94-89 with just 28 seconds to play in Game 6 Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs appeared like all they had to do was get their rings sized.
Security at the American Airlines Arena frantically lined the court with a thick yellow rope to keep people from crashing the Spurs’ championship party while legions of broken Heat fans filed up the stairs past team president Pat Riley, who gazed through them to the action on the floor.
But the finals aren’t over, not by a long shot according to oddsmakers who have set Miami as a 6.5-point home favorite for Game 7 after forcing overtime and edging San Antonio 103-100 Tuesday night.
“Before (Game 6) started, we talked about the Heat being 6-point favorites if it got to Game 7, but after such a devastating loss in which the Spurs collapsed and, in my opinion, looked exhausted, we opened the Heat -6.5 and dealt that number all night,” Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker for CarbonSports.ag, told Covers.
The Spurs are sizable +230 underdogs after having the Larry O’Brien Trophy ripped from their hands on the moneyline (Miami -280) despite coming within half a minute of their franchise fifth NBA title. A loss like that is tough to come back from.
“I have no clue how we’re going to be re-energized. I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards," San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili told the media.
Since 1978, only six NBA Finals have gone the full seven games. And just twice in that span has the Game 6 winner failed to ride that momentum to a victory in Game 7 (1984 Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers after losing Game 6 and San Antonio defeated the Detroit Pistons after losing Game 6).
In fact, three of the last four finals series that saw a Game 7 finale were won by the Game 6 winner – Los Angeles in 2010, Houston in 1994, and Los Angeles in 1988.
Despite the crushing loss and history apparently on the Heat’s side, early action is siding with the Spurs to keep it close in Game 7 Thursday.
“All the early money is on the Spurs and we went to Spurs +6.5 (-115) before going to +6 flat this morning,” says Stewart.
Thursday is the second Game 7 for Miami this postseason after going the distance versus the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat are 2-0 SU and ATS in Game 7 showdowns since the formation of the “Big Three” – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
San Antonio is 3-1 SU and ATS in Game 7 situations since 2000 and has shown the ability to recover from a crushing Game 6 loss in the past, rebounding to win the NBA title against the Pistons in 2005.