Heat vs. Lakers: Free NBA Pick For Last Wade-Kobe Meeting

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 2:36 PM GMT

It's the final meeting ever between two of the best shooting guards in NBA history Wednesday, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, as the Miami Heat make their lone visit of the season to the Lakers.

Heat One Of East's Best Since Break
If you believe Wade, he's only playing Wednesday if Bryant does. If Kobe doesn't go, then Wade said: “I’m not playing, either. Tell Kobe if he ain’t playing, I ain’t playing. How about that?” I'm pretty sure Wade said that tongue in cheek as his Heat still have  plenty to play for, namely potentially the No.3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They will finish anywhere from No.3 to No.6.

Miami (43-30) is a game behind Atlanta for the No.3 seed. The Heat won a second straight game on Monday, 110-99 at home against Brooklyn. Wade had one of his best games of the season with 30 points on 14-for-19 from the field. He also had nine assists, two rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Hassan Whiteside has really been a monster since the All-Star break and that continued Monday with a career-high 27 points (12-for-16 shooting) and eight rebounds. The Heat played without starting point guard Goran Dragic, who was dealing with an illness. Rookie Josh Richardson got the start and had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists.

The Heat have scored at least 100 points in their of their past 14 games and are 14-6 since the All-Star break. Also since the break, Whiteside is averaging 18.0 points (60.5 percent shooting), 13.7 rebounds and 3.4 blocks off the bench. Wade thinks Whiteside should win Defensive Player of the Year. That's not going to happen most likely. And Whiteside isn't eligible to win Sixth Man of the Year even though he's clearly the top reserve in the NBA right now. He will finish with more starts than games off the bench so can't win that award. Whiteside could win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award and could be an All-Defense Team member. He's going to get paid big time this summer as an unrestricted free agent. Miami is 39-33-1 against the spread on NBA odds boards this season and 31-41-1 'over/under.'

 

Lakers Hit Rock Bottom Monday
Kobe is of course retiring after this season and says he plans to play in every game the rest of the way as long as he is healthy. That's obviously good news for the fans who pay to see him in person. Including this game, L.A. has eight left. Four are at home and four away: at the L.A. Clippers (April 5), at New Orleans (April 8), at Houston (April 10) and at Oklahoma City (April 11). Obviously the fans in those cities would like the chance to see Kobe one last time. The Lakers close the season on April 13 at home vs. Utah and that will be one of the toughest regular-season tickets in franchise history for Kobe's finale.

Los Angeles set a franchise record with 61 losses last season but this year's club is going to blow by that as L.A. is 15-59 following  Monday's embarrassing 123-75 defeat in Utah, the Lakers' fourth straight loss. That 48-point margin tied the Lakers' worst in history. It was the worst ever in a game Kobe played because he missed the previous 48-point defeat, which was against the Clippers in March 2014. Kobe wasn't good in his final game in Salt Lake City, hitting just 1-for-11 for five points in 28 minutes. He was minus-43, a career-worst mark.

Rookie D'Angelo Russell wasn't much better, going 2-for-11 for five points. Julius Randle had only two points. The Lakers shot 30.6 percent from the field. Guard Jordan Clarkson left the game after being poked in the eye but should be fine. Swingman Nick Young didn't make the trip due to an illness. L.A. is 32-42 ATS on NBA picks this season and 34-39-1 O/U. The Heat are -9 on Heritage NBA odds with a total of 208.

 

First Meeting
Wade and Bryant didn't get to square off on Nov. 10 in south Florida as Bryant was out with back issues. The Heat were 11-point favorites with a total of 200 at sportsbooks and won 101-88. Chris Bosh led Miami with 30 points; he remains out these days while taking blood thinners for a clotting problem. Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 15 rebounds. Wade had just 12 points; he and his son Zaire met with Kobe after the game at halfcourt for some  hugs and photos. Kobe hadn't officially announced his retirement back then. Young led the Lakers with 17 points. He doesn't even play when healthy at this point. Miami has won a franchise-best seven straight games over the Lakers. The Heat are just 8-19 all-time on the road in the series, however.

 

NBA Free Picks
Give the points, go 'over.' Miami is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 vs. teams with a losing record.
The Lakers are 1-6 ATS in their past seven at home.
The 'over' is 8-2 in the Heat's past 10 games.
The 'over' is 4-1 in the Lakers' past five. 

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Free NBA Pick: 'Over' 207-105
Best Line Offered: at Heritage