Heat at Thunder Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 2/14/2013
You can’t ask for a better way to close out the first half of the season than the opener of this week’s Thursday on TNT doubleheader as the Heat face off with the Thunder for the final time this season. Well, that should read regular season, because all odds point to a rematch in the Finals this summer.
It should be a much easier march to a third straight Finals appearance for Miami with the watered-down East. The Celtics, once presumed to be the Heat’s top challengers, keep losing players to season-ending injuries. The Bulls may or may not get Derrick Rose back this season, as he wasn’t exactly emphatic in a USA Today interview this week that he would play this year. Thus, Miami is a huge -180 favorite to win the East at Sportsbook.ag as well as the NBA title favorites at +220.
The Thunder are going to have a tougher go of it in the very deep West – they might not even finish with the top seed, currently held by the San Antonio Spurs (having the top seed didn’t help the Spurs last year vs. the Thunder). Plus, OKC might have to deal with the very good Clippers, and there’s always the chance of a first-round matchup with the Lakers. I didn’t even mention Denver or Memphis, two teams no one would like to play. OKC is the +160 favorite to win the West again, however, as well as +400 to win the NBA title. On the exact Finals matchup, Heat-Thunder is +250.
Heat at Thunder Betting Story Lines
With all due respect to Kevin Durant, this game is all about LeBron James. The Heat have won six in a row (4-2 ATS) to distance themselves from the Knicks atop the East, and LeBron has been simply incredible in that stretch. In Tuesday’s 117-104 home win over Portland, James had 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. That’s the NBA-record sixth straight game LeBron has had at least 30 and shot at least 60 percent from the field. Oh yeah, James also had nine assists and six rebounds vs. the Blazers, the NBA-leading 16th game this season he had has at least 30/5/5. LeBron has hit an unfathomable 60 of his past 80 shots.
Chris Bosh had his best game of the season Tuesday with 32 points on 13-of-16 from the field and 11 rebounds. He will likely have to play major minutes in this one because Heat forward/center Udonis Haslem left Tuesday’s game with a lower leg contusion. With the break upcoming, I’d be surprised if he plays vs. the Thunder.
OKC got caught totally looking ahead to this game Tuesday night in Utah. The Thunder had tied a franchise record with four straight wins by at least 20 points but were pushed around by the Jazz in a 109-94 loss. Durant had 33 points on 11-of-16 from the field but was called for the first flagrant foul of his career; Kendrick Perkins got one too. Perkins and Serge Ibaka were severely outplayed by Utah big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson – somehow Perkins managed one more rebound than I did in 28 minutes. Jefferson and Millsap combined for 17 rebounds, two more than the Thunder's starting five had. The Jazz had 16 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points. OKC also got squat from Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha, who combined for six points. The Thunder also turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 28 Utah points, and that’s been a major Achilles’ heel all year as they are second in the NBA in turning the ball over at 15.6 per game.
Including last year’s Finals, the Heat have beaten OKC five straight times. Miami beat the Thunder 103-97 on Christmas Day. That game got really chippy, with five technicals being called. Even James and Durant had some words. LeBron had 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and Miami was 19-for-19 from the free-throw line. Durant and Russell Westbrook (just 5-for-19 from field) combined for 54, but each missed potential game-tying three-point attempts in the final seconds.
Heat at Thunder NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, OKC has been opened as a 4.5-point favorite with the total at 205. Miami is 25-24 ATS (10-13 on road) and 25-24 “over/under” (10-13 on road). The Thunder are 31-19-2 ATS (18-8 at home) and 27-25 O/U (16-10 at home).
The Heat are 5-0 ATS in their last five games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. Miami is 2-6 ATS in its past eight after winning its previous game by more than 10 points. OKC is 4-0 ATS in its past four after an ATS loss and following a loss of more than 10 points. The over is 7-1 in Miami’s past eight after scoring 100 points or more in its previous game. The over is 8-1-1 in OKC’s past 10 home games vs. teams with a winning road record. The home team has covered the past four meetings.
Heat at Thunder Picks and Betting Predictions
I do think the Heat are in the Thunder’s heads as Miami’s small lineup has perplexed the Thunder in the five-game losing streak – that lineup essentially renders Perkins worthless as he’s only valuable when banging bodies with big centers like Dwight Howard. With that said, I do think OKC is ready to make a statement here. That’s a lot of points to give Miami, however. It should be a very intense, entertaining game as both teams will go all out with the next five days or so off. Take OKC and the over.
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