NBA Preview: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers - Bettors Undecided

Team Page: Miami :: Los Angeles

50% of Bets Placed on Heat +5.5 | Matchup | NBA Picks
Kobe Bryant will avoid Shaquille O'Neal again, but he might want to stay closer to Dwyane Wade this time.

O'Neal's knee injury will keep him out of another showdown with Bryant, who may again be asked to slow down Wade when the Los Angeles Lakers conclude their season series with the Miami Heat on Monday.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -5.5 point spread favorites

(NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 208.5 total points (View NBA Sports Books).

Miami (17-19) will be without O'Neal, who will miss his second game against his former team this season as he rebuilds the strength in his left knee. On Thursday, O'Neal practiced for the first time since tearing cartilage in the knee Nov. 12.

O'Neal, though, is not yet healthy enough to take the court and add to his rivalry with Bryant, with whom he won three NBA titles while the two were teammates for Los Angeles (24-13).

Heat coach Pat Riley, who won four titles coaching the Lakers in the 1980s, is also out indefinitely while he recovers from hip surgery.

Thanks to Wade's stellar play, however, the Heat have extended their longest winning streak of the season to four games.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence. We've got our so-called swagger back," said Wade, who led Miami with 32 points and 10 assists in a 119-110 win over Utah on Saturday.

Wade was outstanding in a Christmas Day matchup with Bryant and the Lakers. He had 40 points and 11 assists with Bryant guarding him much of the time as Miami won 101-85.

Wade made 12 of 20 shots from the floor, 15 of 16 from the line, added four steals, four rebounds and four blocks. He often took advantage of screens, blowing by Bryant for easy baskets.

Bryant, meanwhile, missed his first six shots, finished 4-for-17 from the floor and had 16 points, marking his third-worst scoring game of the season.

Bryant wasn't guarded by Wade, though, as Heat swingman Dorell Wright stayed with the Lakers star for most of the game. It's uncertain if Wright will be used in the same role this time around.

Bryant is averaging 30.8 points in six head-to-head meetings with Wade, who has averaged 26.3 in the same games -- four of them Heat victories.

Defending NBA champion Miami is 4-1 on its six-game road trip, and 4-2 since Ron Rothstein took over as interim coach for the ailing Riley.

"We've done a pretty good job of circling the wagons and covering for one another and now we're starting to see the results," Rothstein said.

Jason Williams scored 20 points for Miami on Saturday and Jason Kapono added 18, going 4 of 5 from 3-point range as the Heat pulled within four games of first-place Orlando in the Southeast Division.

"We're making shots. We're getting good shots," Rothstein said. "We're starting to develop a real confidence in what we can do and that goes a long way."

The Lakers improved to 17-4 at home with a 109-106 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

Bryant scored 16 of his 28 points in the final 6:44 to lead Los Angeles, which barely avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season.

"That's Kobe being Kobe," Smush Parker told the Los Angeles Times' Web site. "He put his cape on and saved us again."

Bryant suffered a mild groin injury in a loss to Houston on Wednesday, but said he felt fine Friday as he added eight rebounds and seven assists.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

More NBA Basketball Coverage from theSpread.com

 - NBA Basketball teams
 - NBA Basketball standings
 - NBA Basketball schedule
 - NBA Basketball scoreboard
 - NBA Basketball injuries
 - NBA Basketball matchups
 - NBA Basketball stats
 - NBA Basketball odds
 - NBA Basketball public betting chart
 - NBA Basketball news wire
 - NBA Basketball top stories
 - NBA Basketball trends
 - AccuScore NBA Basketball predictions
 - Expert NBA Basketball picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NBA Basketball Home

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Updated NBA Finals Odds After a busy week with the NBA Draft taking place, which team improved their odds to win the 2018 NBA Finals?
Thumbnail Will Fox be a top-5 pick? With the 2017 NBA Drafttakes place later tonight. Where can we expect one of the top prospects, De’Aaron Fox, to land tonight?
Thumbnail Fultz to go to the 76ers? The Boston Celticshave traded out of the No. 1 pick. The Philadelphia 76ersnow hold the top pick once again. Is it a slam dunk who they will take in the NBA...
Thumbnail 2018 NBA Finals Odds After dominating the 2017 NBA Playoffs, will anyone keep the Golden State Warriors from winning the NBA Finals again...
Thumbnail Stephen Curry Game 5 Props Will Stephen Curry bounce back from a poor showing in Game 4 when the Golden State Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight at 9PM...

NBA Headlines

  • CLEVELAND (AP) A person familiar with the situation says Chauncey Billups hasn't made a decision about joining the Cleveland Cavaliers' front office.
    Billups is weighing several factors and r...
  • MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Timberwolves waived veteran forward Jordan Hill on Monday, clearing another $4 million in salary cap room as free agency approaches.
    The second year of the two-...
  • ATLANTA (AP) John Collins has used Hawks star Paul Millsap's versatile game as a model for the player he hopes to become with Atlanta.
    The big question for the Hawks: Will Collins have the op...
  • NEW YORK (AP) D'Angelo Russell wasn't only traded, he was insulted on the way out the door.
    After the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, team Preside...
  • CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) At 31 and entering his 14th NBA season, eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard says his best basketball is ahead of him.
    Wearing a teal suit with black trim, a smiling Howard ...

NBA Team Pages