Though these are two storied franchises meeting up, the results this season have been less than stellar for both the Heat and Lakers. Our NBA odds preview can be found inside.
The Heat haven't been doing too well this season, yet they still find themselves favored on NBA odds by a hefty margin tonight at home against the Lakers. They're laying nine points on their own court, though some books have a line of eight and a half available, that is if you like Miami to cover and want the best number.
If you're looking to get involved in a play on the total, the number is trading at just south of 200. Most books have a line of 199 out there for the taking right now.
The Heat have been off since Wednesday's dominant home win over the Phoenix Suns, a win that could be the sparkplug needed for Dwyane Wade and company. They crushed Phoenix by 17 to improve to 26-33 overall - obviously that's not the most glamorous of records, but fortunately for Wade and friends the Eastern Conference is allowing Miami to stay in contention.
Of course, it's never easy when you bring on a new floor general. It's going to take time for the team to adjust to Goran Dragic as the new starting point guard, but it looks like things are starting to come together on that front. Miami is 4-3 over its last seven games, with two of those losses coming by just two points (New Orleans and Atlanta). Are the Heat finally turning the corner?
Perhaps, but we need to see a larger sample size before we can be truly convinced. The talent is there, especially if Hassan Whiteside continues to improve. The absence of Chris Bosh is a horrible blow for a number of reasons, but a nice core of Dragic, Wade, Deng and Whiteside should be able to keep the Heat competitive in the East.
Los Angeles Lakers
Just when it looked like the Lakers may go on a little run, this after three straight victories, they go on and immediately take two steps back. They lost at home to Oklahoma City and then fell in Charlotte last night despite a very competitive effort. Overall, L.A. now stands at 16-43, and we really shouldn't have to tell you how awful that is.
The good news? LINSANITY! Jeremy Lin has been playing lights out basketball lately, even despite him coming off the bench. He's been the team's most productive player of late and will look to keep up his hot streak against the Heat. He went off for 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds in last night's loss to the Hornets. Jordan Clarkson added 19 points, while Carlos Boozer posted a 15/11 double double in the defeat.
For the most part though, the Lakers have been a team to fade throughout the season, and that's not really going to change as we near the end of the regular season. This is a franchise that's content with losing as much as possible, so you'd be wise to avoid L.A. when placing your NBA picks.
A spread this high is more indicative of how little faith oddsmakers have in the Lakers than anything else. The Heat have disappointed this season, but they're favored by almost double digits here.
And, we think Miami's the NBA pick. Los Angeles, despite showing competitive spirit, isn't really playing for much of anything and the franchise appears content to tank for as high of a seed as possible. Meanwhile, the Heat are finding their stride with their new point guard and are very much in the playoff picture.
Motivation, home-court advantage and superior talent. Those three factors are leading us to take Miami at home in this spot, regardless of the high number.
Free NBA Pick: Miami Heat -8.5 at 5Dimes