Will he play, or won't he? That's becoming a nightly quandary for NBA handicappers when it comes to Kobe and the Lakers. As of this writing it looks like Bryant is “in” for Tuesday night's game at Staples Center against Miami. How does his status affect our free NBA pick?
Heat-Lakers Betting Odds
The NBA odds waited until mid-Tuesday morning to line this game, unsure of whether Kobe would play or not. Upon news of Bryant's upgrade to “probable” most books opened LA as a two-point favorite, the total offered at 198. Most books then dropped the spread to -1, and some brought it down to a pick 'em. So the early cash came in on Miami.
Miami is 1-1 both SU and ATS on its current five-game West Coast road trip, after upsetting the Clippers at Staples Center Sunday 104-90, winning straight-up as a 10-point underdog. Just before that, the Heat lost at Portland 99-83, missing on the spread as nine-point dogs.
Miami overcame a slow start Sunday to shoot 48 percent from the floor for the game, made 20 of 24 free-throws and outrebounded the Clips 57-35.
Miami may only be 16-21 on the season, but at the moment that's good enough for seventh place in the weak Eastern Conference.
LA is 1-1 both SU and ATS on its current four-game home-stand, after falling to Portland Sunday night 106-94, missing on the spread as a five-point home dog. Just before that the Lakers beat Orlando 101-84, covering as a two-point favorite. They played both those games without Kobe.
LA tied Sunday's game at 75-75 early in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers went on a 12-1 run to take control. The Lakers got within six with a minute to go, just a point from a push, but faded from there.
LA shot 44 percent from the floor Sunday, while allowing Portland to shoot 48 percent.
At 12-26 the Lakers are mired nine games behind eighth-place Phoenix in the Western Conference standings.
Heat-Lakers Recent History
This is the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last season Miami swept two games from LA, but since then both these teams have undergone changes.
Heat-Lakers Key Numbers
Miami ranks 11th in the league in FG shooting at 46 percent, but just 26th in FT shooting at 73 percent. The Heat also only rank 27th in FG defense, allowing opponents to shoot almost 47 percent from the field, average a 20/13 assist-to-turnover ratio, but rank second-worst in rebounding at -3.4 per game.
LA ranks 24th in FG shooting at 44 percent, and second-worst in FG defense, allowing foes to shoot 47 percent. The Lakers also average a 21/12 A/TO ratio but rank just 22nd in rebounding at -1.7 per game.
Statistically speaking, neither of these teams is too hot.
Heat-Lakers Betting Trends
Miami has trended toward the UNDERS this season by a 22-15 margin, as Heat games have averaged 192 points. They've also played four UNDERS in a row
LA is 18-20 on the totals, even though Lakers games have averaged 209 points. And they've played five UNDERS in a row.
Miami is 9-9 both SU and ATS on the road this season.
LA is 6-13 SU, 8-9 ATS at home.
Kobe has missed three of the last four games, as the team has chosen to rest him, and give others playing time. The Lakers are 10-22 SU and 14-15 ATS with Bryant this season, 2-4 SU but 4-2 ATS without him. Reports indicate he will play Tuesday.
Heat-Lakers Free Pick
After such a nice performance against the Clippers Sunday we would usually fade a team like the Heat. After all, what are the chances they shoot 48 percent again so soon, and outrebounded their opponent by 20? But they are playing the Lakers, who even with Kobe don't instill much betting confidence. Also, Miami is about as healthy right now as it's been all season, and it's gotten a recent boost from unheralded big man Hassan Whiteside, who's averaged 15 points and 10 boards over the last four games. So we'll take the Heat tonight as our NBA pick.
Free NBA Pick: Miami +1 at 5Dimes