The Lakers defeated the Heat in game six of the NBA finals in the Orlando bubble. However, this season, the two sides couldn’t be enjoying more contrasting fortunes than they are. While the Lakers have picked up from where they left off, the Heat are struggling to tap into any kind of consistent form.
Thus, the NBA odds are stacked against the Heat as they prepare to descend on the Lakers at the Staples Center on Saturday night. Can the Heat deliver a surprise or will the Lakers come through as the home faves?
Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Saturday, February 20, 2021 – 8:30 PM ET at Staples Center
Miami Heat Snapped a Three-Game Slide
The Miami Heat snapped a three-game losing streak on Thursday following a 118-110 win over the Sacramento Kings on the road. In so doing, the Heat managed to come through for their backers as the nominal -1 road chalk across multiple top-rated betting sites. As well, they improved to 12-17 on the season.
Jimmy Butler enjoyed a third-straight triple-double, putting up 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Tyler Herro had a stellar 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists off the bench. Kelly Olynyk contributed 22 points and Duncan Robinson added 20 points while Bam Adebayo put up 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kendrick Nunn contributed 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. The Heat are still without Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley.
How much stock should NBA betting fans put into Miami’s latest victory remains up in the air though, as the Sacramento Kings aren’t exactly lighting up the league this season either. (After the loss to the Heat, the Kings slipped to a 12-16 SU mark, which puts them on a relatively even keel with Miami in the broad spectrum of the league.) Wins against teams that are in playoff contention are few and far in between for Miami, barely recording a handful – just a win over Milwaukee, two over New York, and a win over Toronto.
How quickly things change from season to season: one minute, you’re flying high, the next minute you’re down in the doldrums. The Heat – 7.5 games back in the Eastern Conference – are a massive disappointment thus far, their 2020-21 campaign falling well short of the expectations set by their runner-up finish to the Los Angeles Lakers last season in the NBA finals.
One could trot out a host of reasons for Miami’s unimpressive account: injuries, scheduling uncertainty, covid-19 protocols disrupting form and rhythm… all of which are legitimate reasons that would pose a great challenge to any team. However, the Heat are not alone. The league as a whole is dealing with those exact same challenges every day, but some are proving to be just better at dealing with it than others.
Jimmy Butler recently acknowledged his team was playing “terrible” but he firmly believes in Miami’s ability to turn things around.
“Terrible, just terrible,” said Butler. “Not the way that we say we want to play. Not the way we’re supposed to be playing, but it’s okay because we will turn it around and like the saying says, ‘Better late than never.'”
Miami sits tenth overall in the Eastern Conference, just outside of the playoff frame. The Heat are just 5-5 SU in their last ten games and they’re merely 2-3 SU in their last five games. As well, they’re 10-18-1 ATS on the season with a 3.3 losing margin on average, a record against the spread that puts them second to last in the league.
By the stats, the Heat have some cause for concern, They’ve struggled on offense mainly. As it stands, the Heat are 27th overall in points per game at 107.2 scored on average. They’re also a modest 15th overall in-field goal percentage at 46.5. Defense strikes a more convincing pose as Miami is seventh overall in points allowed at 110.5.
Lakers Come Up Short Against Nets
The Lakers are coming off a 109-98 loss to the Nets – a matchup that many are pegging as their top NBA pick for the NBA Championships this season. Following the latest setback, the Lakers failed to come through as the closing 3-point home chalk and they also slipped to a 22-8 mark on the season, which puts them two games back of Western Conference leaders, Utah Jazz.
Curiously, the Lakers have enjoyed better results on the road this season than they have at home. They’re merely 9-5 SU at the Staples Center compared to 13-3 SU on the road. In their last ten games, the Lakers are a solid 8-2 SU. In the betting, the Lakers are 14-16-0 ATS with a 6.5 winning margin on average.
The Lakers were shorthanded in Thursday’s much-anticipated showdown with the Nets. Anthony Davis (calf) and Dennis Schroder (covid-19 protocol) were sorely missed, and the Lakers offense clearly struggled to make inroads against the high-scoring Nets without them. That said, the Nets were without their talisman Kevin Durant too.
LeBron James had a standout night, putting up 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists but it clearly wasn’t enough. He didn’t get much help from his team as nobody else stepped up in a meaningful way. Kyle Kuzma had a modest game with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Montrezl Harrell added 10 points and 3 rebounds.
NBA Predictions and Picks
Miami Heat have their backs up against the wall, in real danger of failing to make the playoffs a year after stunning NBA betting markets by reaching the NBA finals. Not surprisingly, the team is frustrated and talking up a big game. Meanwhile, the Lakers are not invincible, even though they remain one of the teams to spot in the upcoming NBA playoffs. They’re getting a run for their money on occasion, and they’re clearly dealing with a growing injury list that is taking its toll.
Given these conditions, it’s fair to say that both Miami and Los Angeles have challenges to overcome in Saturday’s clash, and that fact has contributed to rather understated betting odds with various top-rated sportsbooks. That said, the Lakers are the better team and this is a game they really should win if they hope to close the gap on the Utah Jazz in the standings. The Lakers have lost two games in a row only once this season. In five previous occasions following a loss, the Lakers are a perfect 5-0 SU. Thus, the Lakers are the choice bet to come through once again with the win for money-line NBA picks.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.