MIAMI HEAT (21-6)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (13-15)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 5:00 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -9, Total: 206.5
The Heat embark on a four-game West Coast road trip on Wednesday when they visit the Lakers on Christmas Day.
Miami is once again having no trouble in the below-average Eastern Conference, but the team is also 6-0 SU (4-2 ATS) against Western Conference teams this season. Its defense has been especially stellar on the road where it allows just 93.1 PPG, and has a 7-4 (SU and ATS) record. The Lakers and the NBA were hoping SG Kobe Bryant would be playing against LeBron James and the Heat for this matchup, but Bryant will miss the next six weeks with a knee injury. Los Angeles is one of many teams at the bottom of the Western Conference trying to stay competitive for the final few spots for the playoffs. The Lakers have played well at home with an 8-4-1 ATS mark (7-6 SU), where they are averaging 102.2 PPG. Miami has won six of the past seven matchups between these teams SU, and is an amazing 9-1 ATS over the past 10 meetings. Last season, the Heat won both games (SU and ATS), barely covering the 9-point spread (107-97) as home favorites in the most recent matchup on Feb. 10. The defenses have come to play in this series with the Under going 5-1 in the previous three seasons. SF Michael Beasley (hamstring) has missed most of December for the Heat while the Lakers are still extremely shallow on the perimeter with SG Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and PGs. Steve Nash (back) and Steve Blake (elbow) all out for the foreseeable future.
Can the Heat win convincingly at Staples Center on Wednesday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are absolutely sizzling on NBA Best Bets in December, going 67% ATS (47-23) including 21-2 ATS (91%) since Dec. 16. During the month, StatFox Zach has an astronomical 93% ATS mark (13-1) and is currently 62% ATS (24-15) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 81% ATS (13-3) Best Bets record in December and is 58% ATS (23-17) on Best Bets for the season. Since Dec. 16, StatFox Gary is 4-0 ATS, while both StatFox Brian and StatFox Scott are 3-1 ATS
SF LeBron James continues to be the best player in the NBA and torched the Lakers in two games last season, going for 35.5 PPG (67.4% FG), 7.0 RPG, 6.0 APG and 3.0 SPG. His career numbers show a good game should be in store as he has scored 28.2 PPG (46.1% FG), grabbed 7.6 RPG and dished out 7.1 APG while also adding 39 steals (2.0 SPG) in 20 career meetings with Los Angeles. SG Dwyane Wade has also put together quite a good career against the Lakers in 19 games, averaging 25.0 PPG (45.4% FG) with 6.5 APG and 4.2 RPG. He played two games against them last year and managed 28.5 PPG while shooting 23-for-38 (60.5% FG) from the floor. PF Chris Bosh, the last of the big three, has averaged a double-double (17.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG) over his 18 career games versus the Lakers, but did not perform well against them last season, scoring only 9.5 PPG (39.1% FG) with 8.5 RPG. SF Michael Beasley has resurrected his career while on the Heat, but could miss the game with a hamstring injury. He has 15.8 PPG over 15 career games when facing Los Angeles. SG Ray Allen has by far the most history against the Lakers (39 games) and has scored 19.5 PPG despite shooting an unusually low 36.4% from long range.
The Lakers have had to find offense from many different sources this season with a spree of injuries to their veteran players. SF Nick Young has taken up much of that scoring and netted 13.4 PPG (45.9% FG) in 16 career games against the Heat. He scored 10.7 PPG last season in three games including a 19-point performance in the first matchup of the season on Feb. 23. Many expected PF Pau Gasol to really take over as a leader for L.A. this season with the Bryant injury, but he has underperformed and been the topic of many trade rumors. His performance against Miami over 23 career games has resulted in 16.2 PPG (46.0% FG) with 8.6 RPG. Last year he played only one game against them, scoring 12 points with four assists and four rebounds off the bench. SG Jodie Meeks and SF Xavier Henry will once again play a large role on the team with Bryant on the mend. Meeks has scored only 8.2 PPG in 12 games (3 starts) when facing Miami, while Henry has put up only 4.7 PPG (26.7% FG) in three games (2 starts) against them. PF Jordan Hill is yet another Lakers player with a larger role this season, and he has scored a mere 4.0 PPG with 3.0 RPG in three games against them in the past.