The NBA’s two biggest guns square off on Sunday night in what could be a dress rehearsal for the NBA Finals. Whoever comes out on top between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will get a huge boost in the battle for the number one seeding coming out of the regular season.
Miami have already clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference and are 2.00 to retain their championship. San Antonio lead in the West, two games worse off than the Heat, but are a mammoth 8.00 to reclaim the championship - odds that could shorten if they prove their mettle and avenge their 105-100 loss on South Beach earlier this season.
The Spurs almost pulled it off then without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili and the latter will be missing again this time, with a hamstring problem likely to see him rested for a good portion of the remainder of the regular season.
That won’t make it much easier for Miami, despite 28 wins in their last 29. San Antonio are 32-4 at home, and 8-1 over the last nine years when the Heat have come to town. It figures to be a tight scrap, decided by one or two plays. Over the Spurs' stretch of six wins from seven, only one has been decided by more than ten points.
They’re 1.85 to win here, with their guests at 1.98. There’s also an intriguing punt at 14.00 for the pair head to overtime. But with a little psychological punch to be landed, back Miami to edge it.
The Knicks and the Celtics are on course to meet in the first round of the play-offs. That should make for a frenetic clash in New York on Sunday as Boston bid to avoid a season sweep at the hands of their long-time foes. That’s a tough ask, with the hosts winning seven consecutive games behind some inspired play off the bench by JR Smith. The Celtics have won two in a row since they lost 100-85 to the Knicks last week but on current form, back New York on the handicap of -6.5 at 1.91.
Best bet: Take Miami to beat San Antonio at 1.98