Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Through the first week of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, only the Miami Heat have been able to dodge the upset bug. That’s partly because they’ve only played two games so far…partly because they’re in the weaker Eastern Conference…partly because THEY’RE GREAT…and also partly because they survived what was almost a blown game in their second outing at home.
Miami would love to get a 4-0 sweep against Charlotte to set up a rest break before the next round begins. This season more than ever, being fresh could be a huge factor in later rounds. But, Charlotte isn’t going to just roll over and play dead. The Bobcats would love to earn a statement-making victory for their young franchise and their enthusiastically growing fan base. And, we all know that Miami’s at its worst when they don’t feel threatened. That’s how they almost blew Game Two!
We can assume Miami is going to advance out of this series…the last of all eight that we’ve looked at here in the NOTEBOOK since the postseason began. Who’s going to cover the spread before this one finishes? Let’s see what our key indicator stats may be suggesting.
Miami: 109.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
Charlotte: 101.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #24 in the NBA)
It’s amazing that Miami was coasting much of the season, but still ranked second in the NBA in offensive efficiency. They are a truly dynamic force in all elements of offensive play. That’s hidden some by their slow pace. But, it’s not like anyone ever forgets about LeBron James. Charlotte is a feisty group. But one that doesn’t have much of an offense. They ranked #24 in the weak East, which means they’d seem even more helpless on this side of the ball in the West. Huge edge for the Heat.
Miami: 102.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #11 in the NBA)
Charlotte: 101.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #6 in the NBA)
This is where Miami gets into trouble in terms of covering pointspreads. They slack off too much defensively when things are going well, and typically play like a bottom 10 defense during those stretches. Charlotte has emphasized defense and effort under this coaching regime. This is why the Bobcats have a fighting chance to cover the spread whenever they take the court in this series. The spread will be high because Miami gets bet by the public. Defense can cover high spreads against a slacking favorite.
Miami has been very smart to slow things down to save themselves for the playoffs. They’re champions because their comfort zone is right at a playoff pace. Charlotte is really in a tough spot here…because it’s not their nature to run…but they have not shot in a battle of the halfcourt. This is why Charlotte has no shot to advance. Can they get enough cheap points to cover their remaining spreads?
Against the Spread
How about that value?! Charlotte was one of many NBA teams that caught oddsmakers by surprise. They didn’t get much respect until the latter stages of the season. By then, they had already earned huge profits for their backers. Miami has little chance to be a pointspread juggernaut in the regular season because the lines are always so high. They have to play great just to cover the spread…and there’s no reason to waste greatness time and time again during the long grind.
Las Vegas Line:
Miami by 5.5, total of 188.5
A number like that is right in the danger zone for any knee-jerk support for Charlotte. Miami doesn’t have to play too great to cover a medium-sized number like that. In fact, Miami can coast for about 40 minutes but get the money with a great eight minutes. Handicappers will have to make a read on how motivated Miami is to win BOTH games at this site comfortably. A team focused on a sweep can get that job done. A team pacing themselves will probably split, and could possibly fail to reach that number twice. Remember that the margins were 11 and 4 down by South Beach.
Miami/Charlotte may or may not be part of JIM HURLEY’S big Saturday PARLAY. There are four games to choose from, which creates a slew of side or total possibilities. You can purchase the final word for Saturday in the hours leading up to the first tip in Atlanta. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy! If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 Saturday morning. And, remind your representative that we’re just a week away from the Kentucky Derby and you want a special deal!
Back with you Sunday for some baseball…as we preview the Los Angeles Angels at the New York Yankees on ESPN. Starting Monday, we’ll focus on the biggest game of the night in the NBA. That will probably be Game Four of San Antonio/Dallas Monday, then Game Five of Memphis/Oklahoma City Tuesday, then Game Five of either Brooklyn/Toronto or Portland/Houston on Wednesday. Hey, we plan ahead!
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