Bet the Under for Heat vs. Pelicans

Jason Lake

Saturday, March 22, 2014 12:00 PM GMT

The Miami Heat went big Friday night and beat the NBA betting lines against the gigantic Memphis Grizzlies. Maybe some more of the same will work on Saturday versus Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 19 inclusive:

84-68-2 ATS

23-20-1 Totals

The Miami Heat probably don’t give a rat’s behind, but they did something Friday night that they don’t so much these days: put up a “W” in the ATS column. The Heat hosted the Memphis Grizzlies (+4.5) and went with a supersized lineup to counter Memphis’ tall timber, giving Greg Oden (12.3 PER) his fourth start of the season. Make it 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS with Oden in the middle; Miami won 91-86 to stay with three games of the Indiana Pacers for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Too bad Oden isn’t likely to suit up Saturday night when the Heat visit the New Orleans Pelicans, who are coming off a 111-105 road win over the Atlanta Hawks (–6). Oden has yet to play the second of back-to-back games this year. For that matter, Dwyane Wade (22.3 PER) will probably take another maintenance day, as well. Should we go ahead and open up our wallets for the Pellies? They’re getting six points on the NBA odds board.

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Big Time
Before we go too far down the Oden track, let’s point out that he was a team-worst minus-12 in his 12 minutes of action against the Grizz, who were up 84-77 with just over four minutes left in regulation. It took a three by Ray Allen (12.8 PER) to start the comeback; by then, Memphis center Marc Gasol had been knocked out of the game with a sprained left ankle, and Miami had reverted to its smaller lineup.

But the numbers are what they are, and for the most part, the Heat (47-20 SU, 30-35-2 ATS) have gotten stronger results with Chris Bosh (19.9 PER) at power forward and a combination of Oden and Chris Andersen (18.3 PER) at center. Andersen is one of those “quiet” star players, quiet in the sense that nobody takes his skills seriously. Might be the tattoos, the hair, the drug suspension that cost him nearly two whole seasons in the prime of his career. Or maybe it was that Harlem Shake video.

 

Shuffle up and Deal
Anyway, it’s a moot point. If Oden and Wade both sit out as expected, Miami’s going to have to go with one of its more exotic starting lineups on Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET). Perhaps we’ll see Udonis Haslem (8.4 PER) and Michael Beasley (16.4 PER) get the nod like they did in Wednesday’s 101-96 loss to the Boston Celtics (+4.5 at home). That was also the second of back-to-back games, although it was LeBron James (29.2 PER) sitting out instead of Wade.

Alternately, we could see Toney Douglas (11.5 PER) start at shooting guard. That’s what happened on Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers while Wade had the night off. But Oden was able to get in 14 minutes of work, and the Heat won 100-96, although they couldn’t beat the NBA lines as 10-point road faves. Harrumph.

 

A Tall Order
The Pelicans (28-40 SU, 29-35-4 ATS) have a lot of holes in their lineup, but they certainly aren’t lacking for size. They’ve got an MVP-quality power forward in Anthony Davis (27.1 PER), who shook off a possibly made-up respiratory infection and posted 34 points and 11 rebounds against the Hawks, sadly for us. They’ve also got Greg Stiemsma (9.9 PER) starting at center, and a pair of 7-footers coming off the bench in Alexis Ajinca (13.0 PER) and Jeff Withey (13.3 PER).

Unfortunately, it looks like they won’t have Eric Gordon (15.0 PER), who hurt his left knee against Atlanta and had to leave the game. His status for Saturday remains in doubt, but it’s late in the season, New Orleans isn’t going anywhere, so maybe Gordon gets shut down. I think I’ll bail and pick the UNDER blind with all these likely absentees. May the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take the UNDER