Check out our professional NBA pick for one of tonight's games when Houston visits Miami in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the early season. The Heat opened as 1.5-point favorites betting odds.
Rockets Bit Banged Up
It's the second of a back-to-back for Houston as it won 104-93 in Philadelphia on Monday night as an 11.5-point favorite on NBA odds. At least having to fly all night kept those Rockets players out of the South Beach clubs! Trust me, most NBA players visiting Miami head there if time allows. It's a hidden home-court advantage for the Heat.
Houston is 4-0 for the first time in 18 years, winning every game by double digits. James Harden led the way with a season-high 35 points (17-for-18 from free throw line) against the Sixers. New Rocket Trevor Ariza had 24 points. Houston was an excellent 16-for-34 from long range. It must be said that the Rockets, who are seventh in the NBA in scoring, have played a weak schedule thus far of the Lakers, Jazz, Celtics and 76ers.
The big question here is whether Rockets starters Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley play. They were both questionable for Monday. Howard did play through a minor knee injury and had 11 points and 14 rebounds so he seems likely to Tuesday. Beverley didn't due to hamstring injury. He's a tremendous defensive player. The Rockets may have simply decided to rest him because they knew they could beat the terrible 76ers even short-handed. So you might see Beverley here. If not, Isaiah Canaan gets the start again. Of course Houston let Jeremy Lin go this offseason or he would be Beverley's backup at point guard.
Houston is 3-1 ATS at sportsbooks this season and 0-4 on the 'over/under.'
Who Needs LeBron?
Miami is the only Eastern Conference team without a loss. Likely not too many people predicted that in the wake of LeBron James bolting as a free agent this offseason. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also were free agents, but they opted to stay in south Florida. Bosh was heavily courted by Houston and it seemed the Texas native was going to sign there. That would have given the Rockets a pretty stellar quartet along with Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons. However, the Heat at the last minute offered Bosh a monster five-year, $118 million deal and he took it. The most Houston could offer was four years and $88 million.
That decision killed Houston because essentially the Rockets lost Lin (traded to Lakers), Omer Asik (traded to Pelicans) and Parsons (free agent to Dallas) because of trying to create enough cap room for Bosh (or Carmelo Anthony). Houston would have re-signed Parsons if Bosh had come aboard but for some reason the team opted to let Parsons take a three-year, $45 million deal and got nothing for him.
Without LeBron around to dominate the ball, Bosh has become Miami's clear alpha male. He’s averaging 25.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 54.5 percent from 3-point range. All those numbers would easily be career highs. Wade appears content to remain the No. 2 option and is averaging just 16.3 points. Luol Deng, signed to replace LeBron at small forward, is averaging 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds. Six Heat players are averaging at last 11.3 points, and Miami ranks second in the NBA in scoring at 109.3 points per game. It hasn't scored less than 107 points yet and has beaten 2013-14 playoff teams Washington and Toronto. Miami is 3-0 against the spread at sportsbooks and all three games have gone 'over' the total on NBA odds.
Before making your NBA pick here, keep in mind that the Heat have a few injury concerns to monitor. Big men Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem (sore quadriceps) missed Sunday's win over the Raptors with injuries. They are questionable as is Danny Granger, who has yet to play.
Miami and the Rockets split last season, each wining at home. The Heat have won their past five home games in the series. They also beat visiting Houston 90-85 in the preseason behind 26 from Wade and 22 from Bosh. Howard and Harden both sat the entire fourth quarter.
NBA Free Picks: Miami -1.5 on NBA odds and 'over' at Bet365. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings. The 'over' is 7-1 in Miami's past eight home games dating to last year. The 'over' is 4-0 in the past four meetings.