Miami Heat Take 2-1 Lead Over Thunder Into Game 4

By: Michael Robinson | Monday, June 18, 2012

The Miami Heat appear to be getting stronger as the NBA playoffs go on and are now just two wins away from the NBA title. They host the Oklahoma City Thunder for Game 4 on Tuesday night with the odds just released.

Miami is a 3½-point home favorite with a total of 191½. ABC will go back to the later weeknight start time of 9:00 p.m. (ET) from AmericanAirlines Arena.

The series odds have also been updated and Miami is a 200 favorite with Oklahoma City at +170. Remember it was the Thunder who were the solid 170 chalk before the Finals began with the homecourt advantage.

Coach Erik Spoelstra’s team is suddenly in command of the series (2-1) after taking the last two games. The most recent was the first played in South Beach, 91-85 as 4-point favorites on Sunday night. LeBron James (29 points) was held under 30 for the first time this series, but continues to make plays down the stretch to silence his critics.

Dwyane Wade added 25 points, although shooting just 8-of-22 from the field. He has been aggressive going to the rim and was 9-of-11 from the free throw line. The Heat had a 35-24 advantage in free throw attempts overall, and that’s not likely to change much the next two games at home where they tend to get the calls.

Miami is now 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS at home in the playoffs.

The Thunder certainly had their chance to win last game. They had a 9-point lead (65-56) with 3:31 left in the third quarter before getting outscored 13-2 the rest of the period. Having to sit Kevin Durant with his fourth foul was a big part of the reason.

Oklahoma City probably does have a beef about the officiating, but can only blame itself for shooting 62.5 percent from the line (15-of-24), Conversely, Miami knocked down 31-of-35 (88.6 percent) from the charity stripe. Free throw shooting was supposed to be a solid advantage for the Thunder.

Durant (31 PPG) has played great as expected this series and Russell Westbrook (24.3 PPG) has been more good than bad, despite shooting 41.3 percent. The person who needs to consistently step up is James Harden (11.7 PPG), who has been held to single digits twice this series, including nine last game on 2-of-10 shooting.

Coach Scott Brooks’ doesn’t have any other player besides the ‘Big 3’ that can be counted on for double-digits, so Harden needs to be much closer to the guy who averaged 16.8 PPG in the regular season and 17.6 PPG in the first three rounds.

Note the 176 combined points scored last game went way ‘under’ the 193-point total. That’s the big reason why the total on Tuesday has dropped 1½ points to 191½.

The Thunder’s 85 points was only the second time they failed to reach 90 in their 18 playoff games. The ‘over’ was 5-1 in their previous six road games (scoring 103.2 PPG) and 1-0-1 in the first two games in Oklahoma City.

Game 5 on Thursday will stay in Miami as part of the three consecutive home games. James is hoping that it’s a closeout situation and a shot at his elusive first NBA championship.

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