Game: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers
Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Heat -4.5, Lakers +4.5
After a five-game winning streak, the Miami Heat have cooled off and lost two of their last three games. Tonight, they will face the Lakers at the Staples Center where LA will once again be without the services of LeBron James. James is out indefinitely with an abdominal injury.
With James out, it was up to Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis to help give the Lakers an overtime win over Charlotte on Monday. Westbrook had a triple-double and Davis put up 32 points to give LA a 126-123 victory. The win ended a two-game losing streak in which the Lakers scored just 104 and 90 points in losses to the Thunder and Portland.
The Heat were living up to their name with five straight wins before running into Boston last Thursday. The Celtics held Miami to just 78 points in a 95-78 loss. Miami then went on to beat Utah before losing to Denver 113-96 on Monday night. The big news in that game was the Nikola Jokic-Markieff Morris ordeal where both were ejected. Morris will not play tonight for the Heat.
Miami could also be without Bam Adebayo who is listed as questionable for tonight. Tyler Herro and P.J. Tucker are also on that list with minor injuries. If Adebayo misses the game, that could be trouble for the Heat because of the big man’s defense. Miami is tied for second (with Golden State) in opponent points per game allowing 101.5. Adebayo is a big part of that defense. Without him in the middle, Davis could have a field day. Without James, you know the Lakers will rely heavily on Davis on the interior.
What’s surprising is the defense of the Lakers. As good as Miami is defensively, the Lakers are equally as bad. It’s even more of a shock knowing that head coach Frank Vogel is known more for his defensive acumen. The Lakers allow 112.4 points per game which ranks 28th out of the 30 NBA teams right now.
Part of the problem is actually on offense. LA operates at the fastest pace in the NBA. The Lakers average 105.3 possessions per game. They are fourth in the league in scoring (111.5 ppg), but because of their up-tempo game, the defense has suffered. The Lakers have held just one opponent to fewer than 100 points this season (Houston).
The Heat have been more reliable against the spread this season. They are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games compared to the Lakers who have covered just once in their past five games. The Heat have also had success in the series with the Lakers have covered in five of the last seven games against LA. The Lakers are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games.
As good as Miami’s defense has been, the total in their last five games has gone Over four times. That’s also a trend in Heat games on the road. The total has gone Over in 10 of Miami’s last 14 games away from home.