MIAMI HEAT (25-12)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (17-21)
Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -2, Total: 206.5
LeBron James and the Heat head to L.A. on Thursday night looking for a win over Kobe Bryant and the surging Lakers.
The Heat are just 5-6 SU (3-8 ATS) in their past 11 games, but they won big in Golden State on Wednesday night, 92-75, and are looking to ride that momentum with a win over Los Angeles. However, the Lakers have won two straight games in blowout fashion, beating Cleveland by 20 on Sunday and then crushing Milwaukee by 16 two nights later. Lakers PF Pau Gasol is listed as probably for this game after suffering a concussion that caused him to miss five games.
Can the Lakers stay hot and win Thursday's marquee matchup? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Brian is 23-14 ATS (62.2%) on NBA Best Bets since Dec. 23, giving him a 54.4% ATS mark (62-52-3) for the season. StatFox Scott has a season Best Bets mark of 53% ATS (54-48), with Gary at 51% ATS (46-45-4) for the season. The four experts are collectively 51% ATS (236-228-11) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 5-1-1 ATS (83%) since Nov. 24 when he mentions the word "hammer" in his analysis, including 3-1 ATS when he uses the term "Hammertime" for a favorite covering a large spread. For NBA Totals, Scott continues to have a profitable year at 55-40 (58%) for his season NBA totals, while Brian has gone 3-1 in NBA Totals since Sunday.
Miami got a win over Golden State on Wednesday night, but the Warriors were playing without Stephen Curry. LeBron James became the youngest player to score 20,000 career points in that game and was pretty much unstoppable all evening. James had 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in just 31 minutes of play. SG Dwyane Wade played a phenomenal game for Miami as well with 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and five steals. This performance came just two days after he was benched for the entire fourth quarter in a 104-97 loss to Utah. The Heat needed everything they could get from these two, as PF Chris Bosh struggled from the field (5-for-14 FG). He also failed to grab 10 rebounds for the ninth straight games, as he's pulled down a meager 4.7 RPG in 33.8 MPB during this stretch. PG Mario Chalmers stepped up for Miami on Tuesday though, with 15 points and three steals, while going 4-for-7 from downtown.
Los Angeles is looking to make a real win streak out of tonightís game and it has some serious momentum. C Dwight Howard has been outstanding since returning from an injured shoulder with 26.5 PPG on 23-of-29 FG (79.3%) to go with 15.0 RPG and 2.5 BPG. In last season's series versus the Heat, he ripped down a whopping 18.8 RPG to go along with 19.8 PPG in the four games. The Lakers have been feeding him the ball in good spots and the team has responded. SG Kobe Bryant has continued to play well for Los Angeles, averaging 27.0 PPG and 6.0 APG in the past two games. In the past three seasons, he has scored 28.3 PPG on 47% FG in six meetings with Miami. Bryant and Howard are starting to feed off each other and that is exactly what the Lakers will need in order to claw their way back into the Western Conference playoff picture. The teamís chemistry must continue when PF Pau Gasol (12.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG) takes the floor for Los Angeles again.