February 13, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The first half of the NBA season (even though every team has played at least 50 games) concludes on Thursday night with a top-notch doubleheader on TNT. The battle of Los Angeles takes place for the third time this season with the Clippers and Lakers matching wits at Staples Center to wrap up the night. Things begin in Oklahoma City with an NBA Finals rematch as the Thunder tries to cool off the Heat.
Heat at Thunder – 8:00 PM EST
Miami overcame a series opening loss to Oklahoma City in last summer’s Finals to win four straight games and the franchise’s second championship. The Heat kept up that momentum on Christmas night by silencing the Thunder at the American Airlines Arena, 103-97 as 2 ½-point favorites. The game barely finished ‘under’ the total of 203 due to a 44-point third quarter, while OKC hung around thanks to 32-of-38 shooting from the foul line.
Miami is scorching right now with six consecutive victories, including a 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS homestand. The Heat rallied for a miracle cover in Tuesday's 117-104 triumph over the Blazers as 11-point favorites, while using a 16-2 run in the final four minutes to pick up their straight ATS win. The road has been tough sledding for Erik Spoelstra's team at 12-11, but Miami has posted a 5-3 SU/ATS record the last eight away contests. In two road underdog opportunities this season, the Heat won outright over the Lakers (1/17) and Nuggets (11/15).
The Thunder saw a four-game winning streak go by the boards in Tuesday's 15-point defeat at Utah. Oklahoma City was held to under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since Christmas, when the Thunder scored 93 at Minnesota and 97 at Miami. Scott Brooks' club has won seven straight games at Chesapeake Energy Arena, while covering all seven times in this stretch. The 'over' is 7-3 in the last 10 home contests for the Thunder, as OKC has broken the 100-point mark in 11 of the past 12 home games.
Clippers at Lakers - 10:35 PM EST
Los Angeles is still a Lakers' town, but the Clippers are no longer the little brother that can be pushed around. The Clips are leading the Pacific Division at 37-17, while playing their second game off the long Grammy road trip. The Lakers were also kicked out of Staples Center for a few weeks, as L.A. rallied past Phoenix on Wednesday night to move within three games of .500.
Following a 4-3 SU and 3-4 ATS road swing, the Lakers knocked off the Suns in a revenge spot, 91-85, but failed to cover as 8 ½-point 'chalk.' Mike D'Antoni's club tallied just nine points in the third quarter, while Kobe Bryant converted only field goal en route to four points in the victory. The Lakers are playing with double-revenge, including a 107-102 setback to the Clippers in early January as 4 ½-point 'dogs. Bryant scored 38 points in that defeat, but the Lakers allowed 50% shooting to the Clips.
Vinny Del Negro's squad has split the last 10 games, while winning three of the last four road contests. Granted, this isn't a real away game (except for the purple and gold court), as the Clippers have covered just three of their last nine matchups on the highway. The Clips are playing with no rest after Wednesday's victory over the Rockets, as L.A. has cashed the 'over' in nine of 13 games on the second of a back-to-back.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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