Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 18 inclusive:
Be sure to check out our NBA Picks: Friday Value Plays.
December hasn’t been too kind to the reigning and defending NBA champions. The Miami Heat are 6-3 SU and 3-6 ATS this month, and they’re missing one of their best players. No, it’s not LeBron James – although he is playing on a sore ankle that almost kept him out of Wednesday’s 97-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers (+4 away). We’re talking about super-sub Michael Beasley, who strained his left hamstring and has missed the last six games for Miami.
“Oh, boo-hoo,” say the Sacramento Kings. They’re sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Division, where they’ve spent most of the last eight years since head coach Rick Adelman was allowed to walk. But there’s hope in River City now that the team is under new ownership. Maybe that hope will be translated into wins someday. The NBA betting market doesn’t think this Friday will be that day; the Kings opened as 11.5-point road dogs for their matchup (7:30 p.m. ET) with the World Champions.
Be Like Mike
The Miami Heat (19-6 SU, 12-13 ATS) have won five of their six games Beasley has missed thus far, so not many people have even noticed his absence – except for Miami supporters, that is. The Heat have dropped the cash in three of their last four games, including twice to the rival Pacers. Without Beasley’s contributions (22.1 PER; 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes), Miami has been leaning a bit more heavily on PF Rashard Lewis (10.0 PER), who has cooled off somewhat after a surprisingly good start to his 16th season in the NBA.
Beasley’s strained hamstring is one of those nagging injuries that makes his return date nearly impossible to predict. There was no indication as we went to press that Beasley would suit up on Friday, and since the Heat are a lot more concerned about winning SU that ATS, it makes sense that they’re being very careful about Beasley’s hammy. Consider him day-to-day until further notice.
A Message to You, Rudy
Meanwhile, back in Sacto, everybody’s buzzing about the arrival of SF Rudy Gay. He wore out his welcome with the Toronto Raptors, where his penchant for isolation plays and long-range 2s was largely redundant on a team that already had DeMar DeRozan. So Gay was shipped to Sacramento on Dec. 9, along with SF Quincy Acy and center Aaron Gray, for PG Greivis Vasquez (14.4 PER), PF Patrick Patterson (10.4 PER), SF John Salmons (8.4 PER) and PF Chuck Hayes (11.5 PER).
This could be one of those win-win situations. The Kings (7-17 SU, 8-15-1 ATS) are loaded with shoot-first players, but still, they don’t have anyone else quite like Gay on the wings. In a very small sample size of four games, Gay has upped his PER from 15.6 with the Raptors to 20.1 with his new team. That’s probably not sustainable, seeing as Gay’s career-high in PER was 17.8 with the Memphis Grizzlies. But even that level of performance would be a welcome addition on a team starving for talent.
Unfortunately for the Kings, they’re 2-4 SU and ATS since the Gay trade was first announced. They’re coming off an ugly 124-107 loss to the Atlanta Hawks (–6 at home), who sank 15 of their 25 trey attempts en route to victory. Sacto’s new Big Three of Gay (22 points), center DeMarcus Cousins (28 points) and PG Isaiah Thomas (20 points) all performed admirably, but the rest of the thinned out roster wasn’t so hot.
I’d normally be inclined to fade Miami while Beasley is out, but Sacramento doesn’t look like a very good follow candidate at the moment. So I’m going to recommend the OVER, which is 7-2 in Miami’s last nine games and 6-2 in Sacto’s last eight. Anyone who wants to shoot threes over the 5-foot-9 Thomas is welcome to do so.NBA Pick: Take OVER 205.5 at The Greek