Heat at Lakers Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 1/17/2013
It’s about my 10th Miami Heat NBA preview already this season, but how can I not take a look at Thursday night’s TNT nightcap between the Heat and Lakers – a matchup many thought would be an NBA Finals preview when the season began. And maybe it still will be, although both teams look very flawed right now.
This will be the second of a back-to-back for Miami, which played at Golden State on Wednesday, and the end of a season-high six-game trip for the Heat. No doubt Miami can’t wait to get home. The Heat dropped three of the first four games of the trip and were fairly dominated in Monday’s 104-97 loss at Utah. Miami was down 15 at the half, tying its largest deficit at intermission this season.
That game was very notable because Heat coach Erik Spoelstra left Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the bench for the entire fourth quarter – well, Bosh played about 40 seconds – as the Heat were rallying from a huge deficit to get within two at one point in the fourth. LeBron James, who never left the court, had 32 to lead the Heat. That left him just 18 shy of becoming the youngest player in league history to reach 20,000 points. Certainly he should do that Wednesday night barring injury. James also will become only the 12th player in history to have 20,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are showing some life in winning two straight after losing six in a row. It’s no coincidence that this mini-winning streak coincided with Dwight Howard’s return from a shoulder injury. The Lakers blew out Cleveland on Sunday and then stomped Milwaukee 104-88 on Tuesday. Howard had 31 points and 16 rebounds and Kobe Bryant 31 points, only the second time the two have reached 30 in the same game as teammates.
Heat at Lakers Betting Story Lines
The big injury heading into this game – presuming no Heat player goes down Wednesday – is that of Lakers power forward Pau Gasol. He has missed the past five games with concussion-like symptoms. It was presumed Gasol would get back before Howard did. Gasol will be re-examined by a neurologist Wednesday and could return to the court Thursday. Unheralded Earl Clark has been a revelation in Gasol’s absence. The former Louisville player is averaging 11.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 29.2 minutes in the past five games. By comparison, he played a total of nine games in November and December, and Clark didn’t average more than six minutes or even a point or rebound a game. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni says Gasol will resume starting when healthy, although certainly Clark seems to have earned additional minutes.
Offense hasn’t been the problem for L.A. Kobe leads the league at 29.9 points per game, and the Lakers are up to No. 4 in the league at 103.4 per game. Los Angeles has reached triple-digits in each of the past seven games. The defense has largely been the problem for L.A.’s struggles as the Lakers allow 101.5 points per game, No. 26 in the NBA. Thus, D’Antoni says Kobe will take a bigger defensive role. D’Antoni stuck Kobe on Cavs star point guard Kyrie Irving on Sunday, and the youngster was held to 15 points.
Bryant guarded mostly Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings on Tuesday, and Jennings had just 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Playing defense against the other’s team’s top scorer is definitely going to take its toll on Bryant on the offensive end. The 34-year-old already is averaging 38.7 minutes per game this season, No. 1 among guards in the NBA. Don’t look for Kobe to guard LeBron, however, as James is simply too big. But presumably he will be glued to Dwyane Wade all night in this one as opposed to occasionally getting a break by guarding Mario Chalmers.
Maybe the Heat are just treating the regular season like it doesn’t matter, because they don’t look like a championship team on the road, where they are 8-9 entering Wednesday’s game. I have mentioned previously that the Heat stink at rebounding, and the Jazz outrebounded Miami, 40-23; Bosh had just one board in 27 minutes. And the Heat are woefully thin on the bench – Utah‘s reserves outscored Miami’s, 47-26. There are reports the Heat are kicking the tires on free agent Kenyon Martin after previously working out Chris Andersen.
The Heat and Lakers split two meetings last year, each winning by double-digits at home. Wade missed the Heat’s win. Kobe had 33 in L.A.’s home win – many thought he played with extra fire as the game was just a week after the All-Star Game, where Wade put a hard foul on Bryant and broke his nose. Bosh missed that Lakers win. LeBron is 11-4 overall vs. Kobe.
Heat at Lakers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Lakers are 2.5-point favorites with the total at 206.5. The Heat (all trends entering Wednesday) are 17-19 ATS overall (6-11 on road) and 17-19 “over/under”. The Lakers are 16-21-1 ATS (10-11 at home) and 19-18-1 O/U.
The Heat are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 games overall and 1-6 ATS in past seven road games. The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in their past six games vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-2 in the past seven of the second of a back-to-back for Miami. The under is 4-0 in the Lakers’ past four overall. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings. The Heat have covered in seven of the past eight.
Heat at Lakers Picks and Betting Predictions
I do believe that the Heat don’t much care about the regular season. After all, they were only 18-15 on the road last year and had a bad extended trip or two. So that 3-7 road record vs. winning teams this year isn’t too much cause for concern in my opinion.
This one is hard to gauge because it will be a rare game that Miami will get up for – but the Heat will be no doubt run ragged on Wednesday night in Oakland. Plus, the last time Miami played road games on consecutive nights, they lost at Detroit and then Milwaukee, both by double-digits. I like the under regardless. Take the Lakers if Gasol returns but the Heat if not.
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