The LA Lakers are a shadow of their former selves and tonight face the daunting task of taking on the might Miami Heat, writes Unibet columnist Mark Woods...
Miami Heat 1.10, Los Angeles Lakers 8.00 (BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 01.05 GMT)
How the mighty have fallen. Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t used to seeing their team scrambling for precious wins at the wrong end of the NBA. And they’ll surely cast an envious eye when the Miami Heat are their hosts on Thursday.
The Lakers are an astonishing 8.25 to upset the reigning champions and their woeful 8-15 road record is a big reason why the Heat are -12 on the match handicap at 1.91. The Lakers have won just three of their last 13 and come off an overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday that illustrated how much they miss the leadership of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash at such moments.
Nash’s career remains shrouded in doubt although Bryant is expected back next month. There’s no doubt the Lakers would be better served if they dropped further down the standings and placed themselves better for the Draft lottery.
They might get some help from Miami, who are 17-3 at home and who seemed to find their defensive fifth gear again when they held Boston to 86 points on Tuesday. But another repeat of that grind-out showing could easily keep the total points under the line of 209.5, available at 1.91 – and give the Lakers a shot at staying within sight.
Portland Trail Blazers 1.30, Denver Nuggets 3.55 (BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 03.35 GMT)
Portland ended their road trip with losses to Houston and Oklahoma City but the Blazers are 1.32 to bounce back winning ways when they return home to take on the Denver Nuggets.
16-4 on their own court, Portland saw off Denver 113-98 on the road at the start of the season with the Nuggets currently just 9-11 away from home. Their hopes of a late run were jolted when it was confirmed Danilo Gallinari will miss the entire campaign after a second knee surgery.
But they can still score. As can the Blazers at home. So look over the total points line of 221.5 at 1.91.
Best bet: Take the LA Lakers of -12 on the handicap in Miami.