That wasn’t so difficult now, was it? The Miami Heat were my first NBA bet of the 2013-14 regular season, and they came through in style, beating the Chicago Bulls 107-95 as 5-point home faves. But they had to get right on a plane and head north for Wednesday night’s matchup (7:00 p.m. ET, CSN) with the Philadelphia 76ers. Can Miami do it again as an 11.5-point NBA odds chalk on the road? The early consensus: Absolutely, according to 65 percent of bettors.
Took a Picture of You, Miami
If you happened to catch the Bulls-Heat game on TNT, you saw Miami put on a shooting clinic. Seven different players scored in double digits, led by LeBron James (17 points, six rebounds, eight assists) and Chris Bosh (16 points, six rebounds, three blocks). Shane Battier also drained all four of his trey attempts as the Heat shot 11-of-20 from downtown. Miami was up by as many as 25 points before Chicago threatened and failed to pull off the matador cover.
Aside from the usual suspects, it was the Heat bench that impressed the most on Tuesday. Ray Allen joined Battier in the 3-point parade, hitting three of his six attempts. Chris Andersen had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 17 minutes. And Norris Cole was particularly effective at point guard, breaking Derrick Rose’s ankles (figuratively) with a sweet, sweet fake and leading all Miami players at plus-17. This was all without any contribution from Greg Oden (inactive) and Michael Beasley (DNP). Not bad.
It would probably be a stretch to claim that the Heat bench could outplay Philadelphia’s starters. Then again, here are Philadelphia’s starters:
PG: Michael Carter-Williams
SG: James Anderson
SF: Evan Turner
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Spencer Hawes
Great horny toads, that’s an awful lineup. Which suits Philadelphia just fine; this is a team that has gone all-in for the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes, sending All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for rookie center Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-rounder. Noel might miss the entire 2013-14 season recovering from knee surgery. Also absent from last year’s roster: Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Damien Wilkins. We’ll pretend that Andrew Bynum thing never happened.
Add it all up, and the Sixers have a tiny over/under of 16.5 regular-season wins (UNDER –115) on the NBA futures market. That’s the lowest total of any of the 30 teams in the league. If Derrick Rose went 4-of-15 against the Heat, what’s going to happen to Carter-Williams, the No. 11 overall pick out of Syracuse? He shot just 39.3 percent from the field for the Orange last year. Ai ya.
Then you have the strange case of James Anderson. He was the No. 20 pick by the San Antonio Spurs in 2010, and played a few minutes here and there off the bench before bouncing around the league last year, getting in some precious playing time with the Houston Rockets. Now Anderson (10.3 career PER) is Philadelphia’s starting 2-guard. Actually, he’s Philadelphia’s only 2-guard; veteran Jason Richardson is out until at least January recovering from his own knee surgery.
The man who gets to figure out this mess: Brett Brown, a former Spurs assistant who started his coaching career in Australia, where he was named Coach of the Year in 1994. What does Brown bring to the NBA? International experience and player development skills, which could certainly help the Sixers in their rebuilding project. We’ll have to see about the exes-and-ohs part of the game.
Yeah, I’m taking Miami here for my NBA picks. Hitting the road on zero days of rest is no fun, but there might be more Miami Heat fans at the Wells Fargo Center than Philadelphia 76ers fans. Baby steps, Philly. Baby steps.
NBA Pick: Take the Heat –11 at William Hill