By Greg Dempson
In the second of four scheduled games for today, the ball tips at approximately 5:35 ET at the American Airlines Arena, in Miami, as the Heat managed to maneuver their way into post season play as the number 3 seed in the East. There’s no way Miami’s thinking it was as easy as A–B–C, but they’ve secured home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs vs. the A, B, C’s, (Atlanta, Boston and Charlotte.) Those four teams finished tied at the end of the regular season but all the tiebreakers worked in favor of Miami.
All star veteran Chris Boss won’t be in the line-up, and perhaps his career is over, so with 24 games remaining in the regular season the Heat added Joe Johnson to their roster and managed to finish 16–8 in their last 24 contests with Johnson contributing an average of 13.4 PPG. Miami finished the regular season on a sour note as they were crushing Boston, (62 – 38,) and then allowed the Celtics to erase that 24 point deficit and lost to Boston, (98–88,) as the Heat scored only 26 second half points, including 5 in the third period.
As for Charlotte they finished 18–6 in their last 24 contests while going 5–4 in their final nine away games, winning vs. “slugs” such as Brooklyn, the Knicks and 76ers while losing to post season teams such as Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto. They did mage two wins in those last nine vs. playoff teams, defeating Boston in their second last game and more importantly at Miami, (getting 4.5 points,) on March 17 defeating the Heat, (109–106.) For the season Charlotte went 20–21 ATS away from home losing by an average of exactly one PPG while Miami, as a host, was a respectable 23–17–1 ATS winning by an average of 5.3 PPG.
The Woodchoppers Ball
· Before I offer up today’s selection I couldn’t help but notice how easy it was to lay big wood in the Dallas/Oklahoma game or the Rockets/Warriors contests yesterday. The Thunder, (–12.5,) crushed the Mavericks, (108–70,) while Golden State, (–13,) thumped Houston, (104–78,) with both those totals staying well under the number.
· The two teams laying 7 or less yesterday both lost ATS, including a straight up defeat by Toronto while Atlanta eked out a one point straight up…but… non cover victory.
· Today’s two big favorites are Cleveland and San Antonio with the Cavaliers at –10.5 as of this report while the Spurs are the biggest weekend favorite at –15.5. The books don’t miss much and I noticed that San Antonio is –9 in the first half as coach “Pop,” might take some of the pop out of the line-up if the Spurs are up large in the third or fourth. As for Cleveland, they are favored by –6.5 in the first half.
· On February 22 the Pistons were getting +9 at Cleveland and won straight up, (96–88.) They also won their final game of the season at Cleveland but I don’t put any stock into that win as the Cavaliers rested their starters. I’ll have a free selection up at my web site on either the Pistons/Cavaliers game or on the Grizzlies/Spurs contest, www.gregdempson.com.
Preparation “H,” who grabs the ATS win, will it be the Hornets or Heat?
· The Hornets are 8–5 ATS this season when getting +3.5 to +6 points as well as 23–10 ATS the past three seasons.
· The Heat went 8–6 this season as a favorite of –3.5 to –6 points while going 20–13 the previous three seasons.
· Charlotte went 11–2 ATS this season after leading in their previous game by 15 or more points at halftime.
· The Heat are 20–37 ATS and -20.70-units after leading in their previous game by 20 or more points at the half since 1996.
· The past two seasons Charlotte is 14–4 ATS after scoring 60 or more points in the first half in their last game.
· Miami is 25–40 ATS and -19.0-units the past two seasons after covering two of their last three ATS.
· Charlotte is 4–2 straight up vs. the Heat in their last six when the line was + or –6 points.
· The road team is 7–3–1 ATS in the last 11 in this series.
· In the second half of the season Miami’s head coach Spoelstra is 20–39 ATS and -22.90-units vs. teams that average103+ points per game.
· After going under the total by 18 or more combined points in their last three games, play against teams who are winning between 51% to 60% of their games when favored by –3.5 to –9.5 points. This system is 126–82 = 61% ATS the past five seasons when backing the Hornets.
My Every Edge offering for today is on the Charlotte Hornets at +4.5 points.