Bobcats vs. Heat: On Friday Will We See Largest Point Spread of Season?
by Darin Zank - 4/12/2012
Double-digit point spreads are almost an everyday occurrence in NBA betting, and even lines of 12, 13 and 14 aren't really rare. But we're poised to deal with one of the biggest point spreads posted on an NBA game this season Friday night when King James and his Miami Heat host the atrocious Charlotte Bobcats (7:30 p.m. Eastern).
News Flash: Charlotte Stinks
Let's begin with one incontrovertible fact: Charlotte is terrible. They're 7-49 through Tuesday's play and riding (if that's the correct description) a 13-game losing streak. My two cents: They never should have parted ways with Larry Brown.
Are they “all-time” bad? Maybe not, but they're making a run at the Bottom 5, which, in my mind, includes the 2009-10 Nets, who went 12-70; the 1992-93 Mavericks, who went 11-71; and, of course, the 1972-73 Sixers, who went 9-73.
Thankfully for the Bobcats, they only have to play 66 games this year, so they'll go down on that list with an asterisk.
Charlotte also owns a 13 points-per-game differential, which, according to Yahoo Sports, would be the second-worst (for a full season) since the ABA-NBA merger.
For an idea of just how bad the 'Cats are, just look back to Monday night's game vs. a woeful Washington Wizards team in Charlotte. The Bobcats trailed 8-0 out of the gate, by 23 by the second quarter and by 32 at one point in the third quarter. It was a pathetic performance.
For a few laughs, go to Charlotte's home page schedule at Yahoo, which offers a “Highlights” viewing option for that game.
Meanwhile, in Miami ...
Charlotte's only saving grace Friday night might be that the Heat haven't exactly been burning things up lately. Miami is just 5-5 over its last 10 games and 13-9 since the all-star break. Last week they got blown out by Boston; three games later they lost by 15 at home to Memphis; and Tuesday night they lost to the Celtics again. So through Tuesday's play Miami has dropped to three games behind the Chicago Bulls in the battle for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
In fact, Miami plays a national TV showdown game at Chicago Thursday night. So a letdown Friday night is not out of the question.
Even if the Heat are favored by, say, 20 points Friday night, think about it; that's only two and a half baskets per quarter. Is Miami two and a half baskets per quarter better than Charlotte? Yeah, I would think so. The Heat could cover that in three trips up-and-down the court.
But things don't always work out that way. Miami and the 'Cats met twice in the first week of this season. In the first game Miami was favored by 11 points at Charlotte, but shockingly the Bobcats led by 15 points at the half. The Heat rallied to win, 96-95, but the 'Cats got the easy cover.
The second game, played a week later in Miami, played out a bit differently. The Heat went in as 14-point favorites, and had that number covered by the end of the first quarter on their way to a 67-35 halftime lead and eventually a 129-90 blowout.
And More Numbers
Miami has gone off as a favorite of 12 points or more nine times this season. They've won all nine of those games outright but are only 4-5 against the spread.
The biggest number the Heat have tried to cover this season is the 16 points they gave Toronto back February. Miami's biggest lead in that game was exactly 16 points in the third quarter, before they eventually settled for a 95-89 victory.
Conversely, Charlotte has gone off as an underdog of 12 points or more 14 times this season. They lost all 14 of those games outright, but managed to go 6-8 ATS. However, in the four games in which they've been dogged by 15 or more, they're 0-4 ATS. Go figure.
Things Bettors Should be Wary Of
My guess is that Miami will be favored by right around 17 or 18 points Friday night. Now, one problem with taking Charlotte might be that the Bobcats are playing, or non-playing, for ping-pong balls in the upcoming draft/lottery farce. The 'Cats magic number for securing the most balls is five, as in the combination of Charlotte losses and Washington wins.
On the other side of this matchup Miami might very well sit many of its starters once the game is in hand. And hell, that could happen as soon as late in the first quarter.
So bettors playing this game, especially those with heart conditions or high blood pressure, might not want to watch the fourth quarter. Who knows what kind of motivation the 'Cats might be playing with or who knows who will be on the court for Miami down the stretch. Let's all agree that Miami is mighty likely to win this game outright. But as far as the betting goes, the higher the point spread, the better chance Charlotte, obviously, has of pulling off a back-door cover.
Heat vs. Bobcats Prediction and Pick
There's just no way I can recommend taking Charlotte in this game, almost regardless of the point spread. Miami is going to win the game, it's just a matter of by how much. The pick here is the Heat, and the hope is that they get up by enough to cover and hold on.
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