Yesterday Results: 2-1
All Time Results: 32-40-2, -0.55 Units
Miami Heat -4.5 vs. Orlando Magic – 4 Units
1. Huge matchup here which will have outsized impact on the race for the 8th seed. The line seems fishy: why aren’t these teams considered even, given that they are in almost the exact same position in the standings? The line is begging for Magic backers to back up the dump truck. Leads me to believe that this one will not be close at the end of the day.
2. The Heat are more talented from top to bottom, have the better coach, and have better rest. And the NBA will make much more money selling #3 Wade jerseys one last go around in the playoffs than #9 Vucevic jerseys.
3. The Heat have shown up all year when they need it most. I like them to play a rare 48 minutes of focused basketball at home tonight and see it through. Unlike for most of the season, the fair weather Miami crowd will actually be a force in this must-win game.
4. Justise Winslow is questionable. If he ends up playing, he will be the most dynamic guard on the floor.
Houston Rockets +150 vs. Milwaukee Bucks – .2 units
1. Similar to the Bucks matchup against the 76ers days ago, the market here has not downgraded the Bucks enough for losing their starting shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon. His loss will be felt more against the best competition, i.e. teams that run efficient offense and will force Milwaukee to make hay in the halfcourt. Losing Tony Snell to an ankle injury in their last game shortens up the Bucks guard rotation even more.
2. Harden will feast against whichever Bucks guard tries to contain him. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the odds on favorite to win the NBA MVP (-300) according to the Las Vegas Superbook at the Westgate. #13 will be energized seeing this game as his last and best shot to stake his claim at retaining the award.
Los Angeles Lakers -6 (+250) vs. Washington Wizards (Alternative Line) – .1 units
1. After their loss to the Nets last Friday, the Lakers are officially disqualified from the playoffs for the 6th year in a row. In a strange way, I think this being official has lifted a tremendous burden off their shoulders. The worst has come. It’s here. No more morning show divvying up the blame pie. It’s not a story anymore. Just like they did on Sunday night, I expect the Lakers and LeBron to play with renewed vigor and aplum now that they have nothing else to lose.
2. LeBron is probably for this game. If he plays, I like this game at the alternative line. If he rests, I’ll pass.
LeBron can still own a game – maybe not whenever he wants, like he used to. But when he is on he is still a sight to behold. And without Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball – lost to injury – he is required to do as much as ever. Since the All-Star Break, LeBron is averaging 29/10/8 in 36 minutes per game. Against a team like the Wizards who lack a true defensive Small Forward- Jabari Parker can’t guard any position well – LeBron is primed to remind people where all that acclaim comes from. I expect him to show up big in this win.