Lakers vs. Heat NBA Odds & Picks: Back Los Angeles To Cover Spread Against Miami (Thursday, April 8)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Lakers standout Alex Caruso, right, and his teammates.
- The Heat host the Lakers on Thursday in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals.
- This marks the second time they're meeting this season, with the Heat earning a 96-94 win in the first contest.
- Raheem Palmer breaks things down below and details why he likes the Lakers to cover the spread.
Lakers vs. Heat Odds
|Moneyline||-345 / +275|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 7:30 p.m. ET|
In a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Miami Heat in Thursday’s NBA action. This marks the second time these teams are meeting this season, with the Heat earning a 96-94 win. It was a game that went down to the wire, with Alex Caruso missing the game-tying shot at the buzzer.
Unfortunately, they meet again under very different circumstances. The Lakers are dealing with the absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, while the Heat are hoping to find their footing after making deals to shake up the team during the trade deadline.
Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed Miami as an 8-point favorite, with a total sitting at 204.5 points.
Is there any betting value on this NBA Finals rematch?
Let’s find out.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have struggled since James went down in their March 20 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, Los Angeles is just 4-6 and has an Offensive Rating of only 100.7, which is last in the league.
Looking at this roster, it’s pretty clear the Lakers don’t have many dynamic scorers outside of James and Davis, and Dennis Schröder might be one of the few playmakers on this roster. They primarily score most of their baskets in the paint, as they’re shooting 67% at the rim (sixth among NBA teams).
However, Los Angeles will be playing a Miami team that’s fifth in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (61.7 percent). The biggest problem for this Lakers’ offense is that it’s not a very good shooting team, ranking 24th in 3-point shooting percentage (35.5%) and 41% from mid-range, which is 19th among NBA teams.
In many ways, the loss of James and Davis might have been a blessing in disguise for this offense. We’re seeing other guys step up, taking on bigger scoring roles in the absence of their stars and they will certainly need them in the playoffs against a stacked Western Conference.
There are signs this team can become competent offensively in the absence of James. In Tuesday’s 110-101 win over Toronto, Los Angeles was 18 of 40 from 3-point range and has seven players in double figures. It marked the second time in the last week in which the Lakers shot 45% or better from three, so for a team that’s struggled with shooting that’s encouraging.
However, those efforts come against the Kings and Raptors, who are 30th and 14th in Defensive Rating, so we shouldn’t expect the same output against a Heat team that is one of the best NBA’s defensive sides.
In a modern league where shooting reigns supreme, the Lakers have won with superstar play from James and Davis, and defense where they’re still holding teams to 103.6 points per 100 possessions over the past 10 games, which is second among NBA squads.
Los Angeles has fielded a top-tier defense throughout the past two seasons, but it’s a bit of surprise to see them it perform well without its two stars.
You do have to wonder how much that will change, as Andre Drummond begins to take minutes from Marc Gasol. Drummond has played just one game with the Lakers this season, appearing in a March 31 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers gave up 112 points on 1.09 points per possession in that game, which marked the third-worst defensive performance this team has given up since James went out.
Nonetheless, Los Angeles is facing a Miami team that truly hasn’t found its footing this season. Although the Lakers have recently been successful, winning two out of their first three games of this seven-game road trip, things get tougher from here as they face Miami, Brooklyn, New York and Charlotte before going home to face Boston and Utah twice.
These next few games before James returns could loom large for the Lakers’ playoff seeding.
The Heat haven’t been the same team they were last season. They’re sitting at just 25-26 on the season. Miami is 21st in Offensive Rating, scoring 109.5 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The loss of Jae Crowder in free agency has truly hurt this team, and all of Miami’s shooters have seen their 3-point shooting percentages plummet, with Tyler Herro going from 38.9% to 33.0%; Duncan Robinson going from 44.6% to 40.6%; and, Jimmy Butler going from 24% to 21.4 percent.
Kelly Olynyk saw his shooting percentages decline as well, going from 40% to 31.7%, but he was recently traded at the deadline for Victor Oladipo. who has provided a pedestrian 10 points and four assists in 28.7 minutes per game in his three Heat appearances.
The saving grace of this offense is that Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo make their living in the paint, as the Heat are first in field-goal percentage at the rim at 69.1 percent. However, they struggle scoring from every other area of the floor, as they’re 25th in field-goal percentage (39.7%) in the mid-range and just 27th from behind the arc (34.9%) this season.
Miami might struggle offensively, but this is one of the better defensive teams in the league, ranking seventh in Defensive Rating, allowing opponents to score 110.5 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning The Glass.
Over the past two weeks. the Heat defense has been slipping, as it’s allowing 112.9 points, which is 17th overall. Still, this team is solid at defending nearly every area of the floor, as it’s fifth in opponent field-goal percentage at the rim (61.7%) and 10th at opponent field-goal percentage from behind the arc at 36.7 percent.
If you can defend the rim and the 3-point line, you’ll have a solid defense. The Heat are coming off a 124-112 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies, in which they allowed them to shoot 17 of 41 (41.5%) from behind the arc and 46-84 (54.8%) as whole. So, you have to think Miami will increase its defensive intensity coming into this matchup.
The Heat have won four consecutive games before dropping Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies. However, those wins came against the Knicks, Pacers, Warriors and Cavaliers.
As a whole, Miami has feasted on bad teams, as it’s 17-11 against squads below .500 and 9-15 against teams above .500. Even with a top-tier defense, the Heat aren’t going to run away and hide from anyone, as they don’t score enough to blow teams out even as they’re stopping the opposition.
There was initially an edge on Lakers’ totals as this team struggles to score without James, but in this matchup it’s truly priced in. This total opened at 204 points and there’s been movement up to 204.5, which tells us this is probably lined properly.
My model puts this game at 203 points, but I’d probably be looking to lean over as you can cough and sneeze to get over this number in today’s NBA. The Lakers are playing the eighth-fastest pace in the league at 99.90 possessions per game since James went down, so this could be higher scoring than the market believes.
Nevertheless, I think the Lakers have an edge here. They’ve played well during this road trip and I think this spread is too high for a Heat team that’s offensively challenged.
I’ll take the Lakers +8 and look for them to keep this game close.
Pick: Lakers +8