On Tuesday. the Los Angeles Lakers kicked off their trip through the Eastern Conference with a satisfying 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors. With Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet ruled out prior to the game, it seemed as though the game would be a must-win with LeBron James and Anthony Davis still out with much tougher opponents looming on the schedule. The Lakers will get their first crack at those tougher opponents tonight, taking on the revamped Miami Heat.
I say revamped, as this Heat team is looking much different than the one the Lakers lost to on February 20th. In that game, the Heat started Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, and Kendrick Nunn. Tonight, they’ll insert Trevor Ariza and Victor Oladipo in for Olynyk and Nunn as the Heat were one of the most active teams around the deadline. They dealt Olynyk and former Laker Avery Bradley for the Rockets’ Oladipo to give the team a two-way player wing that they just did not have last year.
The Heat will be looking to recover from a very disappointing 12-point loss to the Grizzlies on Tuesday. They had won four-in-a-row up until that point, although it should be noted that those games were against the Knicks, Pacers, Warriors, and Cavaliers (with the latter three all being at home).
Oladipo has played the last three games for the Heat, with their defense sort of underperforming in those games. They rank 21st in Defensive Rating in that span, as the Lakers will hope that their 45% three-point shooting from Tuesday’s Raptors game travels from Tampa Bay to Miami.
The Miami Heat have no one to report of on their injury report as they will be a full-go for this game. The Lakers will still be without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Jared Dudley, but they will also welcome back Andre Drummond as he seems to confirm his return tonight via Instagram despite his “probable” injury designation. Adding to the good news, apparently new Laker Ben McLemore will be available tonight for the Lakers although Vogel is not sure if he will play (h/t Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll).
Going back to bad news, Kyle Kuzma was “probable” yesterday but is now “questionable” for tonight. He will be a game-time decision.
Frank Vogel says Ben McLemore "is available" to play tonight. He isn't sure if he'll play still, but is available to play.
Kyle Kuzma is questionable and will be a game-time decision with calf tightness. Andre Drummond will play and start.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) April 8, 2021
Heat -8; Over/under 204; Heat moneyline -345 (Lakers moneyline +275)
I’m now 3-0 on betting picks following the All-Star break, with my season total being raised to 18-23-2.
Coming off a nine-point win with an easy cover on the -1 that they were given against the Raptors, the Lakers come into this game as eight-point underdogs. I’m not really sure how to bet the spread on this one. The difference in the injury report points towards an easy Heat cover, but they haven’t necessarily been playing lights out lately despite being 4-1 in their last five. If the Lakers’ three-point shooting travels, then I think they’d easily cover with a chance to win.
I’m going to go ahead and avoid the spread as well as the over/under of 204. Speaking to that over/under, it seems insanely low for an NBA game but consider the fact that LeBron James played in the Lakers and Heat’s most recent game and that one ended with a total of 200.
Instead, I’ll take Jimmy Butler’s over on 20.5 points at -103 odds. He had 24 points in that aforementioned low-scoring game, taking 20 field-goal attempts with some poor shooting. Those 20 attempts are tied for the second-most he’s had in a game this season, as it’s becoming obvious that Butler likes to kill the Lakers. He’s been shooting the ball efficiently in his last three games, most recently scoring 28 points on Tuesday against the Grizzlies on only 16 attempts. Take the over, and hope for a Lakers win despite it.
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook at 7:15 a.m. PST.
Where to watch
You can subject yourself to Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and the rest of the guys on TNT, or you can check out the Lakers on their usual home of Spectrum SportsNet. Either way, get in front of your TV early as this game tips off at 4:30 p.m. PST.
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