NBA Picks: Without Ibaka, Does Heat Have Advantage Over Thunder?

Joe Catalano

Sunday, March 22, 2015 3:21 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 22, 2015 3:21 PM GMT

This NBA handicapper is always searching for valuable betting insight & has noted that the Heat are riding a 3 game winning streak, in 7th spot in the East. Should they be the NBA pick against the OKC Thunder?

Tip-off is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to 5 Dimes Sportsbook, the Thunder are a 4.5 point betting favorite and that's because there is no Serge Ibaka and no Kevin Durant.

Russell Westbrook has been literally carrying the entire load by himself. That said, the Heat can surely understand this situation as Chris Bosh is out for the season and this isn't the same Heat team of last season. The betting total is high because both of these teams are hungry and resilient.

Today's best NBA Picks ATS include Heat/Thunder.

Russell Westbrook For MVP?
I know that without having Kevin Durant in the lineup, Westbrook's numbers would naturally increase, but this former UCLA star has taken it to another level. We haven't seen a player play like this in decades.

If you look at the Thunder's current starting lineup, it's laughable, but they're still knocking off teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and it's all because of Westbrook.

In his last 10 games, Westbrook is averaging 34.1 points, 10.6 assists, and 9.7 rebounds per game. He's an automatic triple-double every game. He's also doing it with player such as Dion Waiters, Mitch McGary, and Steven Adams. No player, including Michael Jordan, has had such great overall play. The question is "How long can number 0 keep it up for?" He couldn't possibly carry his team to the NBA Finals or could he?

The Thunder are a smaller betting favorite in this game than they should be because aside from Westbrook, their starters are considered weak. This might actually be a blessing when taking the Thunder as your NBA pick; less to lay.

 

He's Still Got It
He's healthy, has 3 rings, and at 33 years old, Dwayne Wade is playing some of the best basketball of his playing career. He doesn't have to take a back seat to Lebron James anymore and he has the responsibility of being the face of this franchise.

So far, Wade has been a beast, playing like he did when he entered this league from Marquette. At 26.9 points and 5.1 assists in his last 10 games, Wade has turned this team into a playoff team. Not only that, he's gotten the best of Lebron James on 2 occasions at South Beach as the Heat won both meetings. People, including myself, thought that D.Wade was finished, but evidently he's not and I expect him to come strong this afternoon against Russell Westbrook. Westbrook isn't big on defense, and like Chris Paul, could give Westbrook some problems.

 

Hassan Whiteside
The Heat also have an advantage at the center position where Hassan Whiteside has made a name for himself. He's quite capable of putting up 10 points and 20 rebounds or even more if his mind is into the game and he doesn't commit "tacky tack" fouls. Without Ibaka in the lineup, Whiteside should dominate and this could be a huge where the outcome of this game is concerned.

 

Outcome
Miami has been playing some outstanding basketball and the center position along with Luol Deng could be the difference. Scott Brooks is putting out an awful lineup, excluding Westbrook. The Heat should cover the NBA odds spread this Sunday.

NBA Pick- Miami +3.5 at BookMaker

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