NBA Betting: Lay The Points With Heat vs. Disintegrating Kings

Sterling Xie

Friday, April 1, 2016 11:09 AM GMT

Friday, Apr. 1, 2016 11:09 AM GMT

With their All-Star center suspended, the Sacramento Kings could be hard-pressed to cover the spread as home underdogs against the Miami Heat.

Miami Heat vs. Sacramento Kings 
One of the more anonymous games on Friday night’s slate will take place at Sleep Train Arena, where the reeling Sacramento Kings are decided home underdogs to the playoff-bound Miami Heat. However, even though Miami opened up as 7.5-point favorites, the line has shifted slightly in Sacramento’s favor since the opening, as the Heat are now down to seven-point favorites.

It’s hard to reconcile that shift with the recent news of DeMarcus Cousins’ suspension. The ornery superstar center, seemingly the sole life vest keeping the sinking Sacramento ship afloat, will serve a one-game suspension after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season.  Consequently, a Cousins-Hassan Whiteside matchup which would have represented a throwback to the days of basketball being played through the post will no longer materialize.

While that may be a loss for fans, bettors should quickly jump on this line before it invariably rises again in the wake of Cousins’ announced absence. Even with Cousins, the Kings have been uncharacteristically poor values at home, compiling a woeful 15-22 record ATS on their homecourt. Conversely, the Heat are above .500 ATS when hitting the road, sitting at a solid 19-17 this season.

With Cousins now out of commission, this game has the potential to get ugly for the Kings, who have swooned to an 8-14 record since the All-Star Break. With Cousins off the court, Sacramento’s net rating (points per 100 possessions differential) has been a ghastly 6.6 points worse.  For reference, when second banana Rajon Rondo is off the court, the Kings have actually seen their net rating bump up by 2.1 points.  Sacramento severely lacks depth behind their foundational big man; limited veteran journeyman Kosta Koufos figures to inherit Cousins’ slot in the starting lineup, and the Kings’ net rating has been 8.8 points worse with Koufos on the floor (usually in place of Cousins).

Miami, meanwhile, has weathered the loss of its best player in Chris Bosh and managed to actually improve its playoff positioning in Bosh’s absence. Though Bosh received clearance to resume physical activity after blood clots forced him out of the lineup for the second consecutive season, there is still no word on if or when he may return to the lineup. Nevertheless, in the 20 games Bosh has missed, the Heat have gone 14-6. Miami’s net rating in that time is +6.4 points per 100 possessions, the league’s sixth-best mark over that stretch.

Indeed, the Heat have rejiggered themselves around some small lineups involving the likes of Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Joe Johnson and Jason Richardson spread around big men Hassan Whiteside and Amare’ Stoudemire. That hodgepodge of slashers, creaky past-their-prime veterans and the oft-undisciplined Whiteside does not look like a particularly viable contender on paper. However, while the lack of spacing has capped Miami’s offense at league-average levels, the Heat routinely hound ballhandlers on the perimeter, while Whiteside’s presence suffocates offense around the rim. Consequently, Miami ranks seventh in defensive efficiency, allowing 104.1 points per 100 possessions.

 

Betting Analysis
The Heat’s lack of three-point shooting should not harm them against Sacramento’s slipshod defense. The Kings have allowed opponents to shoot 62.1 percent within five feet of the rim, the fourth-worst defensive figure in the league, and are also a below-average team against mid-range shots. Miami depends heavily on shots inside the arc for its offense: 64.5 percent of the Heat’s points have come from two-pointers this season, third-most in the league.

Without Cousins, Sacramento loses its most lethal offensive mismatch, one who may have been capable of punishing Whiteside’s freelancing habits. The Kings’ speedy tempo does not function well without Cousins’ mobility and balanced offensive repertoire, and the high number of possessions could allow Miami to build a healthy early lead. Given the direction of these two teams, expect Miami to comfortably stay ahead of the rapidly disintegrating Kings as your NBA picks and cover the spread as a road favorite on the NBA odds boards.

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Free NBA Pick: Miami Heat -6.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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