Heat vs. Lakers NBA Preview

Heat vs. Lakers NBA Preview

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers. Hannah Foslien/Getty Images/AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers look to get back on track when they host the Miami Heat on Saturday night in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. Here’s a preview of the game, including betting odds and our NBA picks.

Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Saturday, February 20, 2021 – 08:30 PM EST at STAPLES Center

The Lakers opened as 3.5-point favorites and over at FiveThirtyEight, they have them at -5.5. This leaves a 2-point gap between the projections and the actual NBA odds. We need at least two points between the projections and the lines before we lay any serious wood, so the Lakers ATS is worth a look. FiveThirtyEight gives the Lakers a 71 percent chance to win. The equivalent moneyline is -245.

USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin has the Lakers at -6.46 using his Rating numbers, and at TBD using his eigenvector analysis, so there’s some room to grab potential betting value with the Lakers -3 at William Hill.

Heat Bounce Back in Sacramento

It’s a shame that the Heat have had all these injuries and COVID-19 issues because we know what they’re capable of as a cohesive unit. Miami has a long list of players who will not suit up for this one. The list starts with Goran Dragic (minus-1.0 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), who has missed the last six games with a sprained left ankle. Former Laker Avery Bradley (minus-2.7 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), Chris Silva (minus-3.2 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and Meyers Leonard (minus-3.5 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) are also out as well. Silva and Leonard gave the Heat a substandard performance level in limited playing time but Dragic and Bradley would have helped them at both ends of the court against the Lakers.

The Heat are coming off a convincing 118-110 road win against the Kings on Thursday, behind a balanced offense, led by Tyler Herro’s 27 points off the bench and Kelly Olynyk’s 22 points. Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler all scored in double figures as well. Adebayo and Butler each had triple-doubles, the first time that’s happened in a regulation game in Heat history. Butler also became the first Heat player ever with three straight triple-doubles.

Lakers Struggle Against Nets

The Lakers aren’t playing their best basketball of the season, which is understandable because Anthony Davis (plus-4.3 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) is out for at least four weeks with calf strain and Achilles tendinosis. Slow starts have been a problem for them recently and it has led to two tough overtime wins against the Thunder and a come-from-behind win against the Grizzlies. Then, the Lakers lost 122-105 against the Nuggets in Denver, beat the Timberwolves on the road and lost 109-98 against the Nets (without Kevin Durant) at home on Thursday.

LeBron James is carrying the Lakers, he had a game-high 32 points against the Nets, to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists but other than Kyle Kuzma and his 16 points, no one else stepped up on offense. Alex Caruso and Markieff Morris combined for two points in 36 minutes… that sums up one of their issues and the Lakers shot just 26.7 percent from behind the arc (8-for-30), with James going just 1-for-6. This has to change against the Heat.

Prediction

Dennis Schroder (minus-1.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) missed the game against the Nets due to health and safety protocols and his return timeline is unclear. As of Thursday night, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel didn’t know when Schroder could come back. “I don’t know, to be honest right now,” Vogel told reporters after the game against the Nets.

Schroder has provided backcourt scoring to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis and his absence could hurt them in this game, especially with AD already out. Caruso and Morris can’t combine for two points in 36 minutes again and the Lakers also need Montrezl Harrell (plus-1.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) to have a big game. Harrell had 10 points in 15 minutes against the Nets and he has to give them more than that and help contain Adebayo. Many key players are out for both teams but this is a low total, I will take the Over, there will be too much talent on the floor and Caruso, Morris and Harrell will all contribute more on offense, helping our cause.

NBA Pick: Over 212.5 (-110) at FanDuel

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