Miami Heat welcome Thunder for NBA betting battle

By: Barry Daniels | Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two of pro basketball’s elite squads currently in the midst of winning streaks collide Tuesday when the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat host the Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City Thunder in the first game of an ESPN doubleheader. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. (PT).

Oklahoma City extended its winning streak to four with Monday’s 116-89 victory against Washington. The Thunder easily covered as 8 ½-point home favorites, giving them their fourth straight pointspread success and lifting their overall spread record to 35-31.

Three of Oklahoma City’s four victories during the streak occurred on the road where the club is 20-14 SU and 18-16 ATS. The squad is outscoring its opponents on the road by an average of one point per game (102-101).

The combined 207 points in Monday’s outing barely dipped below the closing total, which enabled the ‘under’ to cash in the Thunder’s last three games. However, the ‘over’ is 38-28 in their first 66 encounters.

Center Kendrick Perkins made his Oklahoma City debut against the Wizards after missing nine games with a left knee sprain.

Perkins registered six points and nine rebounds during his 20 minutes of playing time. Perkins had not appeared in a game for Oklahoma City since being shipped to the Thunder from the Celtics at the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring with an average of 28 points per game, notched a game-high 32 markers against the Wizards. Durant was 5-of-6 from beyond the three-point line and 9-of-9 from the charity stripe.

Scott Brooks’ Thunder rank fifth in the league offensively with a 104.8 PPG average. Much of that offensive success has occurred at the free throw line where the team shoots a league-leading 82.7 percent.

However, Oklahoma City ranks 20th defensively by yielding an average of 101.7 PPG. The club is allowing the opposition to shoot 46.2 percent from the field, which ranks 19th.

Miami has won and covered its last three games, including impressive victories against the league-leading Spurs and the Pacific Division-leading Lakers.

Monday’s 110-80 victory against the Spurs was Miami’s most stunning, as the Heat avenged a 30-point loss to San Antonio just 10 days earlier.

Despite easily covering as a five-point favorite, Miami is just 14-20 ATS in its first 34 home dates.

Though the Heat are now a nifty 46-21 SU through their first 67 outings, they are a money-burning 32-34-1 ATS. Miami is outscoring the opposition by an average of seven points per game (101-94).

The trio of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James again led the way for Miami.

Bosh had 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting and was 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. He also hauled down 12 rebounds. Wade added 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting. He was 7-of-7 from the free-throw line to go along with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. James had 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting with six rebounds and eight assists.

Miami and Oklahoma City have met once this season (Jan. 30), with the Heat registering a 108-103 victory as one-point road underdogs. That leaves the road team 10-1 ATS in the last 11 series meetings.

The combined 211 points leaped above the 201 ½-point closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to improve to 7-1 in the last eight series meetings.

Wade led the Heat with 32 points and nine assists, while James added 23 points and 13 assists. The Thunder were led by Durant’s 33 points and 10 rebounds.

Miami shot 52 percent from the floor while holding the Thunder to just 40 percent. Both teams were 8-of-18 from beyond the arc. Oklahoma City held a 54-49 rebounding edge, while Miami had one more assist (21-20). Miami was 22-of-32 from the free throw line, while Oklahoma City was 27-of-34.

The Heat will hit the road for a Friday contest at Atlanta, while the Thunder will begin a six-game homestand Friday against Charlotte.

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