Lakers try to stay hot
January 17, 2013
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NBA on TNT: Heat and Lakers meet for the first time this year
With the way L.A.'s season has gone so far (17-21 SU), this matchup has lost some of the luster it had before the season started and L.A. was assembling their stars, but the floor will be loaded with talent tonight. A win for L.A. would give them tremendous confidence going forward and with Pau Gasol likely returning tonight, L.A. is primed to go on a run.
Miami (+1.5) vs. L.A. (-1.5); Total set at 206.5
Yet, it's hard to trust the Lakers to do anything these days but score. They have topped the 100-point mark in their last seven games and have hit it in 21 of their last 23 games. L.A. is only 10-13 SU in those games though, proving once again that you do need to play some defense in this league to win long-term. That end of the floor has improved for L.A. of late as they held Milwaukee and Cleveland to under 94 points respectively, but this Miami team is a different beast. The Heat lead the league in field goal % at nearly 49% per game, a number that is quite astonishing when you think about it. If you hit on nearly every other shot, you'll be tough to beat in any arena on any night. That is the task L.A. has in front of them tonight, and after last night's blowout in Golden State, Miami's "Big 3" will be well-rested for this contest.
But it's not picking a winner that has got my attention; it's the total. When you have a team that routinely scores over 100 points (L.A), plays in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system, and has some of the best players this league has ever seen it's rare to see the majority of the action (70%) coming in on the under. And I'm not really sure why.
L.A has allowed their opponent to reach the century mark in 16 of those past 23 contests and they are playing a Miami squad that averages 102.1 points/game. Miami is also coming off one of their worst shooting performances of the season last night (40%) vs. Golden State and given their yearly average, will no doubt shoot quite a bit better tonight. Tired legs shouldn't be a factor for Miami on the 2nd of a back-to-back with all the rest they got in the blowout win last night. Add to that the fact that they have FIVE full days off after this game and they can leave it all out on the court tonight and get their rest later. L.A. is 26th defensively in allowing 101.5 points per game and the only other team Miami played on this road trip with a bottom-five defense was Sacramento and the Heat put up 128 in that game.
Recent history (since Miami formed the "Big 3") does suggest that these stars love to play defense against one another with all four meetings staying below the total. But the strengths of both teams offensively play right into the weaknesses of their opponent and this one should see plenty of points. With Gasol back, the Lakers big men should dominate the paint with little resistance (Miami is a small team), while the outside athleticism and shooting for Miami should torch the "old" Lakers guards and wing players all night. Expect a lot of points in this one.
Take the over.