NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 20, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Thursday.

It is a prime revenge spot in a potential NBA Finals Preview Thursday night when the Miami Heat (38-14, 18-10 away) pay a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder (43-12, 23-3 home) at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Miami as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -105.

The Heat lost at home to the Thunder in surprisingly emphatic fashion 112-95 in the first meeting between these powerhouses this season, and we get the impression that if Miami does not return the favor by getting revenge on the Oklahoma City’s home court, it would be hard to argue against the Thunder being the better team this year, and we do not quite feel that the Heat are ready to concede that belief.

One difference between this game and that first meeting from the Thunder’s perspective is that Russell Westbrook is expected to make his long-awaited return tonight after being out since Christmas Day after undergoing the third surgery on his right knee in six months, and while that is great news in the long-tern for Oklahoma City, he may have his minutes monitored in his first few games back so he may not have an immediate impact tonight.

The Heat certainly come into this revenge spot with good momentum and they are 4-1 on their current Western Conference road trip including threes straight wins at some tough venues. In fact, this trip kicked off with a great win vs. the Los Angeles Clippers before one stumble at Utah, from which Miami bounced back with road wins at Phoenix and Golden State before the All-Star Break and a 117-106 win at Dallas in their first game out of the break on Tuesday.

At 38-14, the Heat still trail the Indiana Pacers by just two games for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But first things first, as the Heat look to make a statement here vs. the team with the best record in the NBA at 43-12. And to be fair, there were some performances in the first meeting between these teams that Oklahoma City does not figure to duplicate again here, not even playing at home.

Miami actually “held” Kevin Durant to 33 points in that game, which is just a shade over his league leading 31.5-point average. However, the Thunder also received an unexpected 22 points from Serge Ibaka, and they had a couple of downright surreal bench performances as Jeremy Lamb scored 18 points mainly due to 4-of-6 three-point shooting and Derek Fisher went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc for his 15 points.

Now the Thunder do not have the best record in the NBA by accident, as besides ranking fifth in the NBA in scoring at 105.0 points per game, their often underrated defense is sixth in points against at 97.6 and third in defensive efficiency.

However, let’s face it, it is highly unlikely that they will shoot 59.3 percent as a team from beyond the arc (16-for-27) again like they did in the first meeting, and the Heat figure to bring much more defensive intensity to the revenge spot after Oklahoma City ended up shooting 51.2 percent overall the first go-around.

With all of this in mind, let us make LeBron James and the Miami Heat your Underdog Value Play of the Day for Thursday.

[gameodds]5/256147/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Heat +3 (-105)