Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to November 26 inclusive:
Beating the basketball lines is becoming a habit for the Miami Heat (12-3 SU, 8-7 ATS). They took a seven-game winning streak (5-2 ATS) into Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers (+8.5 at home), and they made it eight with a mostly convincing 95-84 victory in front of LeBron James’ former fans. There was a dry spell or two for Miami in the second half, but it was a basketball clinic otherwise.
While the Heat were towelling off and getting ready for a Thanksgiving feast at the James residence, the Toronto Raptors (6-8 SU, 7-7 ATS) had the day off Wednesday, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience following Tuesday’s 102-100 to the hobbled Brooklyn Nets (+6.5 away). They’ll have to shake it off in time to face Miami on Friday night – keep an eye out for the early NBA odds as they become available.
The Big Four
These two clubs have already met once this season, but that was way, way back on Nov. 5, when Miami prevailed 104-95 as a 5-point home chalk. The situation has changed since then. First and foremost, Chris Bosh has one more daughter than he did before. Bosh (19.6 points, 7.0 rebounds per 36 minutes) missed the first game against his former teammates to be with his wife Adrienne. He’ll be back at center for the Heat on Friday.
Second, Michael Beasley. He continued his career resurrection against Cleveland with 17 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench. Beasley (24.1 points, 6.7 rebounds/36) also closed out the game in a rotation with James, Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers that looked very, very good. At this rate, we’ll be talking about the Big Four pretty soon. Beasley was still riding the pine when these two teams first played.
The Other Big Four
The Raptors have a new power forward, too. Steve Novak (43.0 percent lifetime from downtown) got his first serious minutes of the season last week against the Philadelphia 76ers (+4.5 at home), hitting two of his six trey attempts and meshing quite well with his teammates in a 108-98 victory. Novak was particularly good against Brooklyn with 12 points in 23 minutes. If you go by the Simple Rating plus-minus figures at 82games, Novak leads all Raptors at plus-4.6.
Maybe Toronto should slide Novak over to the five. Hate to say it, but center Jonas Valanciunas (minus-6.3) has taken a step back this year, at least statistically. Here’s the data:
JV 2012-13: 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.9 blocks/36; 15.6 PER, 0.127 Win Shares/48
JV 2013-14: 11.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks/36; 13.0 PER, 0.089 Win Shares/48
These are decent enough numbers for a second-year center, but it’s still a regression rather than the quantum leap Raptors fans were hoping for. They’ve actually gotten better play this year off the bench from Tyler Hansbrough (16.6 PER). Having said that, Valanciunas had his second-best Game Score of the season (14.7) against Miami, with 18 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. Those are Michael Beasley numbers.
One other note from Wednesday; Heat SF Shane Battier (who defies statistical analysis) missed the Cavaliers game with a cold. This might have been an issue in previous seasons, but with Beasley playing this well, Miami can afford to stash Battier away for later use. I suppose it helps when you have LeBron James, too. By the way, he’s hitting half of his 3-pointers now. Be afraid. Especially if you’re a turkey living in Cleveland.
NBA Pick: Take the Heat