Take the Wizards over Heat for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Monday, March 10, 2014 11:38 AM GMT

Just like that, the Miami Heat have lost their last three games in a row SU and ATS. Maybe they can beat the NBA lines back at home when they welcome the Washington Wizards for a Monday nighter.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 8 inclusive:

78-59-1 ATS

21-18 Totals

Well, at least that Road Trip from Hell was quick. The Miami Heat, who were playing so well coming out of the All-Star break, have just completed a three-game trek at 0-3 SU and ATS, losing to the Houston Rockets (–2), the San Antonio Spurs (–3.5), and the Chicago Bulls (+4.5) in succession. Sunday’s 95-88 overtime loss to the Bulls was particularly maddening; Miami was up by 10 points early in the fourth quarter before Chicago roared back.

At least the Heat will be back at home on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET) when they host the Washington Wizards, who were idle Sunday after beating the Milwaukee Bucks (+8 at home) 114-107. The Wiz didn’t manage the cover, but they did comfortably blow out the NBA totals along the way. Cash money, baby.

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Go Big or Go Home

Ever since the Big Three made their South Beach debut, the book on the Heat (43-17 SU, 27-31-2 ATS) has been that they’re vulnerable down low. And their last three opponents just happen to have some pretty talented big men. Dwight Howard had 22 points and 16 rebounds against the Heat. Tim Duncan followed that up with 23 points and 11 rebounds, then Joakim Noah completed the sweep with 20 points and 12 rebounds – and seven assists, and five blocks. Thank you, drive through.

Miami doesn’t have any one person who can deal with this. Chris Bosh (20.2 PER) is a decent defender at best. Chris Andersen (17.7 PER) can be beat man-on-man. And Greg Oden (14.6 PER) rarely plays more than 10 minutes a game if he plays at all. Fortunately for the Heat, there aren’t many talented big men in the NBA, but they just faced three of them in a row and suffered the consequences.

Four Strong Winds

So where does Marcin Gortat fall on the big-man spectrum? He’s certainly one of the better ones out there. Gortat has a very nice blend of size and mobility, and he’s a quality defensive player, but aside from his improving mid-range game, Gortat doesn’t bring all that much offense to the floor. Let’s compare his numbers to the three bigs who crushed Miami:

Gortat: 14.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes; 17.0 PER, 0.141 WS/48

Howard: 19.9 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.9 blocks/36; 22.0 PER, 0.176 WS/48

Duncan: 18.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.4 blocks/36; 21.3 PER, 0.156 WS/48

Noah: 12.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 blocks/36; 19.6 PER, 0.184 WS/48

As you can see, Gortat’s production is a level below that of the three All-Stars on this list. He’s a more gifted scorer than Noah, but Noah is the best passer in this foursome, and he grabs 3.8 offensive boards per 36 minutes compared to Gortat’s 2.7. Noah had six offensive rebounds against Miami. Taj Gibson had three more. All those extra possessions allowed the Bulls to stay in the game and force overtime.

2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures

The Gortats ‘R’ Good Enough

But how awesome does Gortat have to be for Washington to get paid? He might be entirely suitable just the way he is. The Wizards (33-29 SU, 34-27-1 ATS) covered both of their earlier matchups with Miami this season, splitting the SU victories home and away. On Nov. 3, Gortat grabbed five offensive rebounds for Washington (+12.5) in a 103-93 loss. On Jan. 15, he hauled down three more in a 114-97 victory, cashing in the Wizards as 5.5-point dogs.

Monday’s NBA odds have yet to be released as we go to press, but I’m content to support the Wiz one more time and see what happens, especially with Miami playing on zero days of rest. May the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take the Wizards