Heat vs. Lakers Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Miami Heat face the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center Wednesday night in a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble. The Lakers won that series in six games, but the MVP of the series, LeBron James, is out on Wednesday while the Heat are relatively healthier.
The Heat have impressed so far this season as their 7-3 start has them in second place in the Eastern Conference despite Monday’s blowout loss at the Nuggets. Jimmy Butler has played like an MVP candidate, Bam Adebayo is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and Tyler Herro has already taken a commanding lead in the Sixth Man of the Year race. The offseason additions of Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker have paid huge dividends as the Heat have improved on both ends of the court.
On the other hand, the Lakers’ offseason acquisition of Russell Westbrook hasn’t paid off yet. The Lakers lost several key rotational pieces who were contributors on both ends of the court and suddenly became less versatile because of the trade. The Lakers did bring in Carmelo Anthony, and he has been on fire from beyond the arc, especially at home.
The Lakers are just 6-5 on the season as they have played one of the NBA’s easier schedules. They have blown two huge leads in two losses to the Thunder, and they nearly blew another fourth quarter lead on Monday but survived to beat the Hornets in overtime by three.
With James out, the Lakers will need Anthony and Westbrook at their best alongside Anthony Davis on Wednesday, but can you trust them plus the four points against this Heat team?
The Heat have several key players listed as questionable. Tyler Herro (back), Bam Adebayo (ankle), and P.J. Tucker (shoulder) are all questionable while Caleb Martin (thumb) and Max Strus (knee) are probable. Markieff Morris (neck) is out following Monday’s altercation with Nikola Jokic.
The Heat will want each of those players listed as questionable to play as they are key pieces in their offensive and defensive schemes. Max Strus’ likely return from a knee injury will be key to replace Morris’ scoring off the bench, but Strus and Duncan Robinson will need to play well in an increased role for the Heat if they have to fill in for Herro.
The Lakers’ defense took a big step back with the Westbrook trade in addition to letting Alex Caruso walk in free agency. As a result, the Lakers oftentimes have multiple below-average defenders on the court at the same time, and Butler should be licking his chops for this matchup.
While the Lakers may start with Davis guarding him, he will have opportunities to find advantageous switches and punish the Lakers by either scoring inside or passing to open cutters/shooters. The Heat are sixth in Offensive Rating but just 17th in Halfcourt Offensive Rating.
If two of Lowry, Robinson, Herro, or Strus can get hot shooting 3s for a Heat team that hasn’t shot well from beyond the arc, this could turn into a rout.
Los Angeles Lakers
If the Lakers hope to pull the upset against the Heat, it will be because Westbrook makes quality decisions, the Lakers knock down 3s, and they improve their team defense. In addition to James (out), Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb), Trevor Ariza (ankle), and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) all remain out.
Anthony Davis (right thumb sprain) is probable while Sekou Doumbaya and Jay Huff (two-way contracts), Austin Reaves (left hamstring strain), and Rajon Rondo (left hamstring strain) are questionable.
With James out and several of their best scoring options off the bench (THT and Nunn) also out, the Lakers need Westbrook to step up if they beat the Heat, especially if Rondo can’t play. He will need to play better than he has to start off his Lakers career as he is shooting below average percentages at the rim (54% – 34th percentile), in the midrange (39% – 37th percentile), and beyond the arc (27% – ninth percentile). He also has a career-high 17.5% turnover rate (which ranks in the 26th percentile among point guards).
The Heat haven’t played much zone yet this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they played more zone against the Lakers as many other teams have done recently. The zone makes it tougher for Westbrook, who often predetermines his passes, to make reads while also forcing the Lakers’ non-shooters to take open shots.
The Lakers also need to step up defensively and limit their mismatches that Butler and other Heat players can take advantage of one-on-one. The Heat’s biggest limitation so far this season has been their halfcourt offense, so limiting turnovers and forcing the Heat to score against a set defense will be key.
The Lakers rank 28th in Spread Differential as they have failed to cover by an average of 5.5 points per game and are 3-8 ATS this season. The Lakers’ offense is inefficient without it running through James, and Westbrook, with his poor shooting, decision making, and defense, is a poor substitute for the Lakers as their main distributor.
The Lakers’ defense has fallen from a top-three unit each of the last two seasons to a pedestrian 15th this year while their offense is a mediocre 22nd. The Heat are sixth in both offensive and defensive efficiency and are easily the better team right now when both squads are at full strength.
With both of their starting big men, Adebayo and Tucker, and their sixth man and second-leading scorer questionable, there is some uncertainty in betting on the Heat before their statuses are known. The Lakers’ injuries won’t affect how I bet the spread, but if I’m betting on the Lakers, I’d want Reaves and Rondo to play (and continue to see an uptick in playing time).
If Adebayo and Herro are healthy, I love the value on the Heat here and would back them up to -6.5. If one of Adebayo or Herro plays, take the Heat up to -5 or wait and get Miami at a better number live. If neither plays, bet the under down to 211 as their absences will hurt the Heat’s halfcourt offense while limiting their transition scoring chances.
Adebayo’s presence will be a huge boost to the Heat as their defensive anchor while also giving them a more mobile big who can take advantage of his quickness against Lakers bigs like DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. When the Lakers put Davis at the five, Butler should have his way with the Lakers’ lack of capable forward defenders as James and Ariza remain out.
Expect Butler to have a big night matchup-hunting as he avoids Davis in the halfcourt and leads the Heat to a win.
Pick: Heat -4