This is an important road trip for the Miami Heat, who will have the watchful eye of NBA basketball handicappers following them to learn if they will be play on or play against material for sports picks.
This will certainly not be a fun road excursion and the possibility exists the sportsbooks might not make the Heat a favorite the entire time they are away from south Florida.
Miami has enjoyed success over the years in Oregon and let’s delve into how this could play out against the NBA odds.
Miami Seeks an Old Cliché to Change Fortunes
The Heat is 15-20 (16-19 ATS) and occupies the last available spot for the playoffs in the Eastern Division after losing four of their last five and seven out of 10.
Chris Bosh has taken a more vocal leadership role since the departure of LeBron James. Bosh has been preaching to his teammates that “every game matters” and at the juncture every win or loss will determine if they make the playoffs and if they do where they will land.
“I think we’re to that point right now,” Bosh said. “Before, we had the ability and that strength to just show up, and we won a lot of games by just being there. A lot of them you had to play and eventually our talent and experience would overcome everything, but I think it’s just a different thing this year.”
If you read between his words, Bosh’s larger point references the ability to finish games in the right manner (winning), which this group struggles to do as you are about to read. This season Miami is last in the league in the second half in points scored at a mere 43.9 per game. Though Bosh and the boys are a respectable 11th in points allowed in the last two quarters (48.9), they need better offensive execution to start stringing together victories.
With Portland second in the league in points allowed, no easy answers will arise other than doing the little things that count.
Portland Seeking Help Up Front to Sustain Winning
The Trail Blazers are 27-8 and have the attention of those making NBA picks with their 20-14-1 spread record. But with centers Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland sidelined by injuries, Portland is looking to dip into their past to help fill the void. According to ESPN’s Mark Stein, they are trying to convince Jermaine O'Neal to play again this season. O'Neal, 36, played 18 years in the NBA, including last season for Golden State, and is a free agent, who was originally drafted by Portland.
Lopez is believed to be out a month with a broken hand and Freeland will be evaluated in two weeks to learn how his shoulder is healing.
Veteran center Chris Kaman will "likely" make his second consecutive start according to coach Terry Stotts. Basketball bettors will also try to find out as soon as possible if Wesley Matthews will make his 250th straight start after hyper-extending his knee on Monday.
Portland has won 10 of 12 with eight covers and is in a good groove and will try and beat Miami for the first time in four tries.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
The current betting odds have Portland as a nine-point favorites (down from opening -10) with a total of 197. The Trail Blazers have found Miami to be a conundrum even at home where they are 6-11 and 5-12 ATS against the Heat.
Portland is 18-9 UNDER as a favorite this season.
After this contest, Miami will venture to L.A. where they will face the Clippers and Lakers starting on Sunday and Tuesday and head north to take on Golden State and Sacramento. Heat players and coaches realize it is imperative they get off to a good start on this sojourn and having last played on Jan. 4th, they are 2-0 SU and ATS with three or more days off.
The Blazers will have Orlando up next on Saturday; make a quick trip south to face the Lakers the next day, before a rugged stretch against the Clippers, at San Antonio and at Memphis next week. Portland is 3-0 and 2-1 ATS with two days between games.
Even though Portland will be short-handed in the middle, Miami is not a big team, thus matching up will not be an issue for the Trail Blazers. However, all signs point to a big effort from the Heat and while I do not believe they will win, I think Miami will bring enough to cover the spread.
NBA Basketball Free Pick – Miami +8.5 at 5Dimes