MIAMI HEAT (23-10)
at PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (19-15)
Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -3, Total: 196
The Blazers seek their ninth straight home victory when they invite the struggling Heat to town on Thursday night.
Miami has been a terrible bet recently, going 1-6 ATS (3-4 SU) in its past seven games, including a dreadful 87-77 loss at Indiana on Tuesday where it was outrebounded 55-36 in its lowest point total of the season. Portland hasnít lost at Rose Garden since Dec. 8, going 5-3 ATS during its eight-game home winning surge, which it extended Monday with a 125-119 overtime win over Orlando. Although Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge is dealing with a wrist injury, he is expected to play on Thursday night.
Can the Blazers extend their home win streak versus the defending champs? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts were 6-2 ATS on Wednesday, and are 55% ATS (62-51-1) since Dec. 22. StatFox Brian is 5-2 ATS since Sunday and 18-8 ATS (69%) since Dec. 23, while StatFox Scott is 11-6 ATS (65%) since Dec. 29, giving him a season Best Bets mark of 55.1% ATS (49-40), with Brian (55.3% ATS) and StatFox Gary (52% ATS) also profitable. The four experts are collectively 52% ATS (216-200-11) on Best Bets for the season. For NBA Totals, the experts are a profitable 32-26 (55.2%) since Dec. 28 with StatFox Brian going 11-7 (61.1%) during this span. Scott continues to have a great year at 51-37 (58%) for his season NBA totals.
Rebounding has been a problem for the Heat all season, as they have just 39.0 RPG, the second-lowest total in the NBA. This includes getting outmuscled by 9.2 RPG over the past five games. PF Chris Bosh has just 5.4 RPG in his past five games, but he will likely get help from SF LeBron James, who has a whopping 10.4 RPG in his past nine meetings with Portland to go along with 34.2 PPG (55% FG) and 8.2 APG. James has scored at least 20 points in all 33 games this season and his road numbers are just astounding (26.9 PPG on 53% FG, 8.6 RPG and 7.1 APG). SG Dwyane Wade has also torched the Blazers in his career with 27.0 PPG (51% FG), 6.9 APG and 5.2 RPG in 17 meetings. He's also coming off his second 30-point game of the season on Tuesday when he dropped 30 points (9-of-16 FG, 4-of-6 threes) in the loss at Indiana. The Heat are looking for PG Mario Chalmers to break out of his slump, as he's scoring just 4.9 PPG on 24% FG (10-of-41) in his past seven games. Despite his struggles, Miami still leads the NBA in FG shooting at 48.8%.
Aldridge has been the biggest reason his team has won eight straight at home, scoring 22.9 PPG on 52% FG with 8.1 RPG during this surge. He's also given Miami fits in the past four seasons, averaging 25.0 PPG (51% FG) and 8.0 RPG. PG Damian Lillard has played well since the calendar turned to January, averaging 17.6 PPG and 7.4 APG. But he's still been plagued by turnovers with 18 miscues in the past four games. Luckily for Lillard, Miami has forced a total of 17 turnovers in the past two games combined. SF Nicolas Batum loves playing in front of his home crowd with 18.2 PPG, 6.8 APG and 6.4 RPG in his past five games at Rose Garden. He's also shot 58.3% FG, leading to 14.2 PPG in five career games versus the Heat. SG Wesley Matthews is finally healthy, and he is heating up with three straight 20-point games, averaging 23.7 PPG on 58% FG and 14-of-22 threes (64%) in these three contests, all Blazers victories.