Heat vs. Lakers Odds
|Moneyline||+135 / -160|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday morning and via BetMGM.|
In a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals, the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers host the Miami Heat on Saturday night at the Staples Center.
These two teams have gone in two separate directions since leaving the bubble, as LeBron James and the Lakers have continued to assert their dominance over the rest of the NBA, sitting second in the Western Conference with a 22-8 record.
Like the other two conference finalists in the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets, the Heat haven’t been as fortunate as they’ve started the season 12-17 with injuries and COVID-19 protocols making a huge impact on their continuity and ability to build any momentum this season.
Both of these teams come into this matchup hoping to right the ship as the Lakers are coming off a 109-98 loss against the Brooklyn Nets, losing two out of their last three games with the absence of Anthony Davis.
The Heat ended their three-game losing streak with Thursday night’s 118-110 win over the Sacramento Kings, but they’ve struggled on the road this season, losing six out of their last 10 games.
Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed the defending champions as 3.5-point home favorites with a total of 213.
Let’s find out where the betting value lies.
Coming into this season, many analysts wondered if Miami’s trip to the NBA Finals was a fluke and a product of playing in the bubble. We could go back and forth arguing this all day, but it’s clear this isn’t the same team from last season.
It’s not a coincidence that three of the four conference finalists from last season have struggled this season with the short turnaround. The Heat are 26th in Offensive Rating (106.8) and ninth in Defensive Rating (110.1) this season, while last season they were seventh in Offensive Rating (111.9) and 12th in Defensive Rating (109.3).
The loss of Jae Crowder in free agency has been huge, as he was one of their better 3-and-D wings. He has been replaced by Moe Harkless, who simply hasn’t been able to match his offensive output.
One of the biggest issues for this team is that they’re just not hitting the 3-pointer the way they did last season, shooting 35.2% from behind the arc compared to 37.9% last season.
All of Miami’s shooters have seen their 3-point shooting percentages plummet as well, with Tyler Herro going from 38.9% to 34.4%, Duncan Robinson going from 44.6% to 39.2%, Kelly Olynyk going from 40% to 33.5% and Jimmy Butler going from 24% to 16%.
The Heat are also one of the worst rebounding teams in the league this season, as they own a rebound percentage of just 48.9%, which ranks 22nd among NBA teams. Add in injuries and COVID-19 protocol absences to Butler, Herro, Dragic and Bradley, and you have a team that struggles to find its footing and build any momentum.
The Heat lost to a Clippers team missing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Nic Batum and then followed that up by blowing a 15-point fourth-quarter lead to the Warriors in a game in which Steph Curry shot poorly for most of the contest.
The Heat have essentially kept their season alive by beating up on bad teams, as they’re 10-5 against teams below .500 and 2-12 against teams .500 and above, only defeating the (17-13) Milwaukee Bucks and (15-15) Toronto Raptors.
The Heat have also struggled on the road this season, racking up a 5-10 record on the road despite being 7-7 at home.
Los Angeles Lakers
It was clear that the loss of Anthony Davis with a calf strain and an Achilles injury was going to impact this Lakers team, but what we didn’t know is that that they’d be without Dennis Schroder, who missed Thursday’s game against the Nets due to health and safety protocols.
The loss of Davis impacts the Lakers on both sides of the ball, but it’s becoming increasingly clear they may not have enough offensively. Davis averaged 22.5 points on 53.3% shooting with 8.4 rebounds and three assists, and the Lakers are +6.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on offense.
Although I think the Lakers are more equipped to handle the loss of Davis this season than last season — they have Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder to provide a scoring boost — if they’re missing Schroder, they simply have a team full of one-dimensional shooters and a complete lack of playmaking outside of LeBron.
The Lakers have been an improved shooting team this season, but during their most recent stretch in which they’ve gone just 4-9 against the spread, they’re dead last in 3-point shooting percentage, making just 30.7% of their attempts from behind the arc.
During that same stretch, Los Angeles is just 21st in Offensive Rating, scoring just 110.2 points per 100 possessions. One has to wonder — if the Lakers are missing Davis and possibly Schroder, where does the offense come from?
Harrell can provide a boost for this offense, albeit he’ll likely give up just as much on the other end of the floor as will Kyle Kuzma.
The rest of the roster in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wesley Matthews, Alex Caruso and Company are dependent on LeBron’s shot creation.
When you factor in the drop-off defensively without Davis, we’re looking at a Lakers team that could be in trouble.
With a full-strength Lakers roster, I have the Lakers as 7.5-point favorites over the Heat.
Unfortunately for LA, this just isn’t a full-strength Lakers roster, as they’ll be without Davis and Schroeder.
I expect the Lakers to feel AD’s absence inside given the presence of Bam Adebayo, and without Schroeder, the lack of guard play will hurt them in this matchup.
The Heat are just 2-12 against teams .500 and above, but this feels like a good spot for them to pick up a win against a “good” team given the absences on this Lakers team.
Although Miami’s shooting has dropped off this season, it’s still a much better shooting team than the Lakers.
The Heat should have the advantage offensively against a Lakers team with LeBron and a group of one-dimensional role players.
I’ll take the Heat at +3.5 and play this down to 2.5 while also sprinkling a small percentage of my wager on the ML.
Pick: Miami Heat +3.5 & ML +140.
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