Consecutive defeats may be a regular hazard over the course of an 82-game regular season, but for the NBA’s defending champions back-to-back losses are big news. Coming up short against the terrible Washington Wizards could be written off as an strange aberration straight out of the Twilight Zone. But when Miami allowed the New York Knicks – playing without Carmelo Anthony – to coast to a 112-92 win on Thursday night, then the spotlight was turned on.
LeBron James scored 31 but he’s simply not been getting enough support, leading his team in points in ten of their 17 games to date. “There is a cloud over our team,” he said. While poor defence is one problem, the other glaring issue is a drop in Dwyane Wade’s production: the All Star is averaging just 19.4 per night, almost six below his career average. That is a troubling sign for the Heat, who remain 2.75 favourites to retain their championship.
They’ll try to get back on track against New Orleans, who will fear Miami’s scoring. The Hornets are 0-9 when opponents reach 100 points against them and come off a 96-79 loss to Memphis on Friday. So bet on some much-needed blue skies for Miami, even on a handicap of -14.
New York, who are a tempting 7.50 for the Eastern Conference title, will take the momentum from their success on South Beach when they head to Chicago. Anthony is a doubt once more with a cut finger, although they now know their defence is strong enough to withstand his absence. The Bulls are just 10-8 so far, they are giving up 91.6 points with a line-up focused every more heavily on British star Luol Deng. But the Knicks have yet to lose this season after getting one night’s rest, so look at them to steal a narrow victory.
Philadelphia and Boston get an instant re-match at the TD Garden following the 76ers' overtime win on Friday. Can the result be reversed? Boston are -6 on their own floor but another tight clash is in prospect. And with some tired legs, go over the line of 187.5 points at 1.91.
Bet of the day: Go over 187.5 total points in 76ers-Celtics at 1.91.