Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 8 inclusive:
This is starting to get serious, folks. It’s one thing for the Miami Heat (27-9 SU, 16-20 ATS) to trip over the basketball betting lines, but losing 102-92 to the New York Knicks (+8 at home) in front of millions of television viewers? I wouldn’t have predicted that. I only picked the underdog-UNDER combo. Glad to be of service.
Now the Heat have to face the Brooklyn Nets (14-21 SU, 16-19 ATS), who have almost exactly mirrored the Knicks by getting most of their injured players back in the lineup and winning their last four games SU and ATS. The Nets are 6-point home dogs on Friday’s NBA odds board with a total of 197 points – again, practically the same as the early line for Thursday’s game against the Knicks. One guess what my pick’s going to be.
The Heat Is Off
This is not Miami’s finest moment. The Heat have now dropped the cash in seven of their last 10 games, and while their injury situation isn’t nearly as bad as it was for both New York and Brooklyn, it certainly isn’t helping. Both Mario Chalmers (15.1 PER) and Shane Battier (8.6 PER) were missing from the starting lineup Thursday; Dwyane Wade (22.7 PER) managed to play, dumping 23 points on the Knicks, but that makes him a strong candidate to sit out on Friday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN).
I’m definitely concerned about Michael Beasley (18.6 PER) at this point. He played just nine minutes off the bench for Miami, scoring five points and finishing the night tied with Wade at a team-worst minus-14. Is Beasley’s hamstring acting up again? Is he back on the left-handed cigarettes? It can’t be that bad, because the Heat just guaranteed his contract, and all indications (in public) are that Beasley has been a good soldier. Maybe he’s just really that inconsistent.
Insert Beastie Boys Song Title Here
The Nets have been up and down this year, too. However, they’ve been predictably good with a full complement of players and bad otherwise. I’m a bit surprised at their current performance without Brook Lopez (25.8 PER), but this current mini-streak does coincide with the return of Andrei Kirilenko (19.2 PER), who’s playing solid two-way basketball as always. Jason Terry (7.1 PER) is also back in the lineup, which puts Brooklyn at just about 100 percent… what’s that? Deron Williams (18.1 PER) is in a walking boot? Oh crap.
It looked like business as usual for the Nets when Williams aggravated his sprained left ankle over the weekend. He had already missed 11 games this year, and Brooklyn went 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS in his absence. But the Nets haven’t fallen apart this time. With all those other players available, Brooklyn beat the Atlanta Hawks (+1.5 away) 91-86 on Monday, then the Golden State Warriors (–6 away) 102-98 on Wednesday.
Never Give Up
As much as we’ve enjoyed laughing at the Nets, I prefer the feel-good story that is back-up PG Shaun Livingston (13.9 PER). He was tabbed for greatness when the Los Angeles Clippers drafted him fourth overall in 2004, but a serious knee injury in 2007 derailed Livingston’s career – serious enough that he almost lost his leg. And yet he fought his way back, playing here and there for six different teams in five years before landing in Brooklyn.
Livingston isn’t putting up monster numbers for the Nets, but he can run an offense, and he’s got Joe Johnson (14.2 PER) to help him along. That’s a lot more than we can say for Miami’s backcourt at this point. Somebody get Sherman Douglas on the phone.
NBA Pick: Take the Nets +6 at BetCRIS