NBA Picks for Thursday TNT: Lakers at Heat Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/18/2012
Certainly one of the more anticipated Thursday NBA on TNT games of the season comes this week when the Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s LeBron vs. Kobe. The favorite to win the NBA title (Heat at 7/4) vs. the No. 4 favorite (Lakers at 15/2 – L.A. was No. 2 to start season but have slipped behind the Bulls and Thunder).
There are no football games to compete and it’s an average college basketball night so I expect this game to be the most-bet and highest-rated of the season so far other than a few of the Christmas openers.
Lakers at Heat How the Teams Enter
Both clubs come off big home wins over NBA title contenders.
In one of the ugliest games of this NBA season, the Lakers beat the reigning champion Mavericks 73-70 on Monday and, thus, should be well-rested. Derek Fisher hit a rainbow three-pointer with 3.1 seconds left for the win. Kobe Bryant was held to just 14 points after scoring at least 40 in the previous four games. The Lakers scored just 46 points through the first three quarters, their lowest point total through three quarters since the start of the 2008-09 season.
It was L.A.’s first meeting with the Mavs since L.A. was embarrassed in last year’s Western Conference semifinals by Dallas.
Miami also had an unusual win last time out, beating the San Antonio Spurs 120-98 on Tuesday night. That score couldn’t be more misleading. The Heat were down 17 at one point and 14 at halftime (San Antonio shot nearly 67 percent in the first half), but the Heat shot 68 percent in the second half, outscoring the Spurs 71-35 after halftime. Miami outscored San Antonio 39-12 in the third quarter -- matching the second-largest differential for any quarter in Heat history, and matching the second-worst differential for a period in Spurs history.
Lakers at Heat Betting Story Lines
Obviously I don’t mean this literally (or do I?), but maybe the Heat are better off without Dwyane Wade. He didn’t play on Tuesday night after suffering a sprained ankle last Friday. Miami is now 4-0 without him this year and LeBron James is simply a better, more aggressive player when Wade isn’t on the court.
LeBron had 33 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday and had 17 points in Miami’s huge 39-point third quarter (Heat had a 23-1 run at one point), outscoring the Spurs himself by five points. James’ numbers on Tuesday essentially are his season averages in the three games he has played this year without Wade (LeBron also missed one game that Wade did).
I have no doubt Wade is dying to play in this game, but I highly doubt he does – this is probably an injury that keeps him out until next week. The good news for Miami is that swingman Mike Miller, last season’s biggest signing other than LeBron and Chris Bosh, finally showed why he was considered vital. Miller made his season debut on Tuesday after hernia surgery and shot 6-for-6 on three-pointers, finishing with 18 points and matching his most three-pointers since joining the Heat. Before the game, Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said he planned to ease Miller back in to the tune of maybe six minutes a game. Miller played 15.
If there’s one problem the Heat have, just like last year, it’s in the paint. The Lakers aren’t quite as big as they were last year with Lamar Odom but are still terrific down low with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The latter suddenly looks like a Top 3 center in the league, averaging career highs in points (16.4) and rebounds (13.8). Maybe the Lakers don’t need to trade Bynum for Dwight Howard after all. Bosh might be able to equal out Gasol but the Heat have little to deal with Bynum.
The Heat swept the season series last year, winning by 16 in L.A. and six in Miami. LeBron is averaging 27 points a game and shooting nearly 50 percent from the field over the course of his past four games against the Lakers -- all wins.
Lakers at Heat Betting Odds and Key Trends
I had a feeling that the books wouldn’t have an opening line due to Wade’s status, but there was no way I couldn’t preview this game. I project Miami to be about a four-point favorite without Wade and perhaps up to 5.5-6 with him. The total should fall around 191 but that certainly will fluctuate by a few points. The Lakers are 7-8 ATS this season overall and 1-4 ATS on road. The Heat are 6-7 ATS overall and 3-2 at home. ‘Over/under’ records: LAL 5-10, MIA 9-4.
The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Heat are 1-4 ATS in past five vs. Western Conference. The over is 4-1 in Heat’s past five following a win. The Lakers are 0-6 ATS in past six meetings in this series.
Lakers at Heat Betting Prediction
Kobe. LeBron. Bosh. Gasol. Let’s call them even and say this comes down to center and point guard. The Lakers certainly have the edge at the former with Bynum against Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and whomever Spoelstra throws out there.
However, the Lakers might have the worst point guard situation in the NBA. Fisher can still make the key shot but is 37 and has been otherwise terrible. I never thought I would write the words that the Lakers “really miss Steve Blake.” Thus, Miami’s Mario Chalmers should have his way with Fisher.
The Lakers just aren’t the same on the road (1-4), so even if Wade is out I have to go Heat here. So give the points and take the over since both teams are pretty well rested – Kobe and LeBron should put on a show.
Doc’s Sports has had a very nice start to the season for NBA picks with 16 of 22 winning nights to start the season, including four straight heading into Wednesday night’s action. This weekend will be a big one for Doc’s as we will quite possibly have a 6-Unit Game of the Month. We are 4-0 this season for picks rated 5-Units or higher. A one-day package is only $29! Click Here to purchase.
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