10* graded play on the Miami Heat as they host the Toronto Raptors set to tip at 1:00 PM ET, February 5, 2012.

This game is a prelude to Super Bowl XLVI that starts at 6:30 PM ET. The NBA odds makers have the Heat a big 16 point favorite and the total is at 188.

Miami leads the Southeast division of the Eastern Conference by just 1.5 games over the Atlanta Hawks. They are 10-2 in home games, 7-4 in road games, 3-1 in the division, and 12-3 in the conference. 

Toronto is a struggling team that is attempting to find some sort of consistent play. They are in fourth place of the Atlantic division of the Eastern conference, led by the most surprising team in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors trail the 76ers by nine games, but trail Milwaukee (10-13) by just 2.5 games for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Lebron JamesThis is Super Bowl Sunday and if there was ever a time for the Heat’s ‘BIG THREE’ to put on a show it would have to be today. Miami is in second place in the Eastern conference trailing the Chicago Bulls by 1.5 games, so taking care of business against the weaker teams in the league, like the Raptors, is a must for them to keep pace with the Bulls. 

Team rankings

The Miami Heat rank second in scoring offense at 103.5 points per game; third in scoring margin at 7.7 points per game; fourth averaging 17.3 fast break points per game; fifth averaging 43.0 points in the paint per game and tenth averaging 21.4 assists per game. 

By comparison, Toronto rank 29th in scoring offense averaging just 86.8 points per game; 25th in scoring margin at -6.5 points per game; 28th averaging 35.4 points in the paint per game; 26th averaging 9.3 fast break points per game and 17th averaging 20.2 assists per game. You can see how overwhelming this matchup truly is just by these offensive stats and why the line, despite being at 16.5, should be higher in my opinion. 

Defensively the Heat rank 18th in scoring defense allowing 95.8 points per game; eighth allowing just 11.6 fast break points per game; fourth allowing 36.9 points in the paint per game and 18th allowing 20.5 assists per game. 

By comparison, the Toronto defense ranks 12th allowing 93.3 points per game; seventh allowing 11.5 fast break points per game; best allowing 35.3 points in the paint and seventh allowing 19.0 assists per game.

Defensively, it may appear that Toronto has an edge over the Heat, but this is misleading as Toronto must play a slower half court oriented style of play. As shows, they do not have the offensive fire power to matchup well against the large majority of NBA teams and certainly not well against the Heat’s offensive power house. 

Simulator projections

My proprietary sports betting database and simulator show a high probability that Miami will win this game by 18 or more points. The simulator shows that Toronto will score 86 or fewer points. In past games, the Heat are 24-4 ATS when they allow 86 or fewer points in a game spanning the last two seasons. The simulator projects that the Heat will score between 99 and 104 points in this game. In past games, the Heat are 149-70 ATS when the score 99 and 104 points in games played since 1996. 

Granted, the ‘BIG Three’ were not playing together back in the late 90’s, but in the NBA the old adage of the first team to 100 wins the game and in this particular game, there is no doubt in my mind that Miami will score far more than 100 points and will easily cover the spread. 

Take the Heat!