NBA Picks Thursday TNT: Heat at Blazers Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/29/2012
It’s the second week in a row I go with a Miami Heat game for the TNT Thursday doubleheader game of the night preview. But how can you not go with the Heat? They covered for me last week in beating the Knicks, and they are beating everyone into submission right now and also are a cover machine. However, Portland’s Rose Garden has always been one of the toughest places to win in the NBA.
By the way, Portland recently snaked Miami for a player the Heat wanted. Free agent 7-foot-1 center Joel Przybilla chose Portland primarily over Miami. The 32-year-old Przybilla enjoyed his best years in Portland, where he played from 2004-2011 as both a starter and reserve. He was set to make his season debut on Wednesday and probably will play about 15 minutes a game as a backup center. The Heat badly wanted him as an extra big body for a likely playoff matchup against the deep frontline of the Bulls, who also wanted Przybilla.
Heat at Trail Blazers How the Teams Enter
Portland played Wednesday night in Denver, so it’s a tough back-to-back having to come out of that altitude against the running Nuggets and then fly back home. As mentioned above, Portland is usually one of the best teams in the league at home, but the Blazers actually had a four-game losing streak at the Rose Garden – including a blowout by the Wizards! – before ending the first half with two straight home wins.
The final one was a 137-97 destruction of San Antonio, which was playing without a resting Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and injured Manu Ginobili. The Blazers scored the most points in the NBA this season, led by 48 at one point and had six players score at least 16 points. They scored an NBA season-high 41 first-quarter points just one night after scoring a franchise-low seven in the first quarter in a loss at the Lakers. Portland has two 40-point wins this season, the most in the league (there have only been three).
The Heat will be the last team to take the floor (if you go by game tipoff) for the first time after the break. Miami enters Wednesday’s action tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the NBA’s best record at 27-7, the best start in Heat history. Miami leads the NBA in scoring and has won eight in a row overall and five straight on the road. The Heat slowed the Jeremy Lin express in a big way last Thursday against the Knicks.
Heat at Trail Blazers Betting Story Lines
There really aren’t enough numbers to describe how dominant the Heat have been of late. In that streak of eight straight wins, all by double digits (on average 16.5 points), the Heat covered in seven. The only one they didn’t was a major letdown game vs. Sacramento. Miami’s offensive efficiency over that span is 114.1 points per 100 possessions, or around five points better than any other team. Defensively, the Heat have held their past eight opponents to only 90.4 points per game on 40.0 percent shooting from the field.
Miami finished February with a record of 11-2 and with 10 of the wins coming by at least 12 points. The Heat are the first team ever to post 10 such wins among the hundreds of teams that have played 13-or-fewer games in a calendar month. And Miami is invincible when it dominates the boards. The Heat are 7-0 this season when outrebounding their opponents by double figures. They have 27 straight games overall when holding a double-figure rebound advantage (see why they wanted Przybilla?).
The Heat are 4-0 at home vs. Western Conference teams this year but just 2-3 on the road, losing at Golden State, the Clippers and Nuggets, in a three-game stretch from Jan. 10-13.
In the past few weeks, Portland has made two big lineup changes, with small forward Nicolas Batum and guard Jamal Crawford having joined the starting five in place of Wesley Matthews and Raymond Felton, respectively. Batum had a great February, averaging 18.6 points and 4.6 rebounds and has become a building block. Crawford’s first start came in that blowout of the Spurs, when he had 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Look for the unhappy Felton to be dealt before the March 15 deadline – perhaps to the Lakers. Portland has made a deadline deal the past two years.
This is the only scheduled meeting of the season between the teams. Last season they split, each winning on the other’s home floor. Miami is 9-14 all-time in Portland but has won the past two there.
Heat at Trail Blazers Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami opened as a 4.5-point favorite with the total at 196 on NBA odds. The Heat are 18-16 ATS overall this year, with identical 9-8 ATS road and home marks. Portland is 18-15-1 ATS overall entering Wednesday and 12-5-1 at home.
The Heat have covered each of their past five road games and their past four games against teams with winning records. The road team has covered the past four in the Miami-Portland series. Overall, the Heat have covered in just two of the past eight meetings (but six of those were without LeBron James and Chris Bosh) against the Blazers.
NBA Picks for TNT Thursday: Heat at Trail Blazers Betting Predictions
If Portland hadn’t played Wednesday night, I would probably lean toward the Blazers and the points. But with Miami having all that time off and not having to rush out to the Pacific Northwest, I can’t see the Heat’s roll stopping quite yet (on the other hand, Friday’s visit to Utah is a major trap for Miami, with the Lakers on deck Sunday). Thus take the Heat and give the points for this one.
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