The Los Angeles Lakers will be at home again tonight, welcoming in another Eastern Conference opponent after being blown out by the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. They’re just a little bit familiar with this new opponent, as they will be playing Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. The Lakers, of course, won the 2020 NBA Finals against the Heat in six games.
If you didn’t know, the Miami Heat have fallen far short of their expectations this season, mostly due to a plethora of injuries and “health and safety protocol” designations. The most significant “health and safety protocol” designation was the one to Jimmy Butler, who missed 10 games in mid-to-late January. The Heat went 2-8 in that time, and are 12-17 on the season (10th in the East).
They’ve been one of the worst offensive teams this season, ranked 26th up-to-this-point in Offensive Rating. Even with Butler back in the fold, they’ve remained bad on that end with a 24th ranked ORTG in the past 10 games. The failures on that end are definitely not because of their young phenom Bam Adebayo, as he’s averaging 19.8 points per game this season (more than Butler and more than Bam’s 15.9 PPG last season).
Things point towards a possible bounce-back win for the Lakers, although we know teams always give their best against the Lakers. They’ll also be coming into this banged up…speaking of which…
Both the Lakers and Heat have fairly lengthy injury reports for tomorrow's game. pic.twitter.com/g44fLxlXCY
— NBA Insider Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 20, 2021
Both teams come into this game banged up, with the Heat having more absences than the Lakers. Still, no individual’s impact will be missed more than Anthony Davis’, as he misses his second game after his calf strain sustained against the Nuggets. Dennis Schröder will also be out due to health and safety protocols. Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris appear on the report for the first time, although they will probably play.
We won’t see our old friend Avery Bradley, or Goran Dragic who also missed most of the time during the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Lakers -4; Over/under 208; Lakers moneyline -159 (Heat moneyline +133)
I’m now 8-14-2 on the season after going 2-0-1 in my Nets preview (my Dennis Schröder bet pushed as he did not play).
To start off, I’m going to go with two Heat player props. First, give me Jimmy Butler’s over on rebounds of 8.5. Butler is averaging 7.8 rebounds per game this season, averaging even more in the past few games. His past three games have included totals of 10, 12, and 10, while he has hit 10 rebounds in five of his past seven games. I’m going to go with the current trend, especially because DraftKings Sportsbook has the over at +108.
I also wanted to take a Heat player’s over on threes made, as the Lakers showed against the Nets that their perimeter defense has been awful lately. Duncan Robinson was the first choice at an over on 2.5, but that’s at -175 odds and I could see the Lakers making a point of stopping him. Instead, give me Kendrick Nunn at the over on the same total of 2.5, but with +145 odds. He’s averaging eight three-point attempts per game in the past five games, averaging three made threes per game in that same time frame. With the Lakers’ game plan probably focused around Bam, Butler, and Robinson, I expect Nunn to get around those three three-pointers per game.
Other than that, I’ll go with our Lakers this time as opposed to the Nets game. But I’ll take the moneyline as I’m scared of this being a close game.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Where to watch
The game will NOT be televised on Spectrum SportsNet (although you can still watch their pre and post game shows). It will instead be televised on ABC. Tip-off is early, at 5:30 p.m. PST.
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