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How to bet the NBA Finals

Do the San Antonio Spurs or Miami Heat present the best value?

Updated: June 4, 2014, 2:18 PM ET
By Dave Tuley | ESPN Insider

LAS VEGAS -- The 2014 NBA postseason is being called the most exciting of all time.

We've had down-to-the-buzzer games and competitive series throughout. From a betting perspective, underdogs have dominated with a record of 51-31-1 against the spread (62.2 percent), but when all the powder had settled, it was the two biggest favorites -- the two-time defending champion Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs -- that will meet in the best-of-seven NBA Finals that begin Thursday night.

When the playoffs started nearly two months ago, the Heat were the 9-5 favorites to win it all at the LVH SuperBook here in Vegas, and the 5-8 favorite to win the Eastern Conference despite being the No. 2 seed behind the Indiana Pacers. The Spurs were the 5-2 second choice to win the title and the 5-4 favorite to survive a deeper field in the Western Conference.

The Heat pretty much rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers as they've won 12 of 15 games and are 10-5 ATS in the postseason. The Spurs started slow in their series against the Dallas Mavericks, actually starting 0-6 ATS before winning Game 7 in a blowout, but are now 12-6 SU and 9-9 ATS overall.

When the Spurs eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 in overtime last Saturday, the LVH made the Finals a pick 'em proposition with a series price of minus-110 on each team, but most Vegas books made the Spurs a slight favorite at minus-120 with the Heat at even money, and it's been bet higher the past few days. As of early Tuesday, the consensus series price is Spurs minus-130/Heat plus-110.

The Spurs are favored in part because they have home-court advantage (last year, the Heat had home court and prevailed in Game 7 in Miami). Also of note is the fact that this year we're using a 2-2-1-1-1 format in the Finals. The 2-3-2 format was used the previous 29 years.

Let's take a look at the matchup from a Vegas point of view, starting with the updated power ratings from Erin Rynning of sportsmemo.com, WunderdogSports.com and yours truly. 

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