Heat vs. Cavaliers NBA Picks: Trust in Miami's Improved Lineup & Deeper Bench

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 29, 2015 10:56 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 10:56 PM GMT

The Cleveland Cavaliers have more depth than they did last year, but they'll have a hard time beating the NBA odds Friday night against the replenished Miami Heat.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Oct. 29: 1-1 ATS

The Cleveland Cavaliers knew they had to give LeBron James a little more help. It's the same thing the Miami Heat went through five years ago after they convinced James to take his talents to You-Know-Where. So the Cavs did the right thing, and brought in the likes of PG Mo Williams and SF Richard Jefferson while signing James and his cohorts to fresh contracts. Problem solved, right?

Not quite. The Cavaliers still have a pair of wounded warriors in PG Kyrie Irving and SG Iman Shumpert. They won't be in action this Friday (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) when the Cavs host the Heat in their home opener; despite the thin backcourt, Cleveland opened as a 6-point chalk on our NBA odds board before moving to –6.5 at press time.

 

Love and Money
We've already seen mixed results from the Cavs this year. They dropped their opener 97-95 to the Chicago Bulls, although a pair of late threes from PF Kevin Love gave Cleveland the matador cover as 4-point road dogs. Then the bench came to life in Wednesday's 106-76 mauling of the Memphis Grizzlies (–5 at home). Jefferson even turned back the clock with 14 points in 18 minutes of relief work.

We've also seen Love get a lot more burn on offense than he did in his first year with the Cavs. That's partly due to Irving's absence, but it's also by design; James told reporters after Wednesday's win that Love would be their “main focus” this season. That might explain why Love was willing to sign a max extension to stay in Cleveland after he was largely ridiculed for his third-banana status last year.

 

And Justise for All
Chris Bosh knows the feeling. He went through the same thing when he was brought in from Toronto to join James and Dwyane Wade and win some rings. Miami's fortunes took a tumble last year when James went back home and Bosh suffered blood clots in his lungs. Like the Cavaliers, the Heat have wisely improved their depth while welcoming injured players like Bosh and fellow PF Josh McRoberts back into the lineup.

Unlike the Cavs, Miami comes into the new season at nearly 100 percent on the health meter. PF Amar'e Stoudemire skipped Miami's 104-94 win over the Charlotte Hornets (+6.5 away) as part of a larger maintenance program; he's expected to make his Heat debut on Friday. Meanwhile, first-round draft pick Justise Winslow was solid at small forward in his NBA debut, leading all players with a plus-26 in 26 minutes off the bench.

Winslow could be a very special player on a very special team. Bosh and Wade are still capable of doing great things, PG Goran Dragic is All-Star quality, breakout center Hassan Whiteside looks like he's ready to continue where he left off – don't forget about SF Luol Deng in that starting rotation, either. And that bench! That's why we're putting Miami in our NBA picks this time around.

NBA Picks: Take the Heat +6.5 at SportsInteraction

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