NBA bragging rights in the state of Florida will be on the line Thursday night when the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat host the second place Orlando Magic
in the first game of a TNT pro hoop doubleheader.
The overnight line for this 5:00 p.m. (PT) tip-off has Miami installed as a six-point home favorite, with the total set at 199.
These Florida foes have met three times this season, with the Heat winning twice and the ‘over’ cashing twice.
The initial meeting occurred on Oct. 29, with the Heat spanking the Magic as four-point home favorites, 96-70. The combined 166 points dipped well ‘under’ the 188 ½-point closing total.
Miami held Orlando to a season-low 30.4 percent from the floor (21-of-69), including 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from beyond the three-point line. The Heat out-rebounded the Magic, 60-52, and held a wide 17-5 advantage in the assist department.
Miami’s Dwayne Wade led all scorers with 26 points, while Dwight Howard’s 19 points was tops for Orlando.
The middle meeting (Nov. 24) saw the Magic get revenge with a 104-95 victory as four-point home favorites. The combined 199 points skipped ‘over’ the 188 ½-point closing total.
This time, the Magic shot a torrid 54 percent from the floor (36-of-70) and 31.6 percent from downtown (6-of-19). Orlando also out-rebounded Miami, 57-44, led by Howard’s 18 boards. The big center also led Orlando’s offense with 24 points.
The big difference between this game and the first meeting was Orlando dishing off 24 assists, compared to five in the first matchup. Magic point guard Jameer Nelson led the way with 14 assists.
The rubber game (Feb. 3) saw Miami upset Orlando as a small one-point road underdog, 104-100. The ‘total,’ which had closed at 188 ½ in the first two meetings, closed at 198 points.
LeBron James scored an NBA-high 51 points and had 11 rebounds and eight assists to lead Miami. James scored a franchise-record 23 points in the first quarter and hit a career-best 11 straight shots to start the contest.
The Magic trailed by 23 points with less than eight minutes to play, but nearly forced overtime. Ryan Anderson missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with 6.9 seconds left.
Nevertheless, Orlando is 13-6-1 ATS in its last 20 meetings against Miami, with the ‘over’ going 7-3 in the last 10 matchups.
The Magic extended their current winning streak to three games with Tuesday’s 116-110 victory against the New York Knicks. However, the Magic barely failed to cover as seven-point home favorites, which lowered their spread record to 28-32-1.
Though the combined 226 points soared ‘over’ the 212-point closing total, the ‘under’ is still 9-2 in Orlando’s last 11 contests and 33-26-2 overall.
Orlando is a respectable 15-13 SU away from home, but just 11-16-1 ATS. The club is outscoring its opponents on the road by one point per game (98-97).
The well-rested Heat have not played since Sunday’s 91-86 setback to the Knicks. Miami failed to cover as 10-point home favorites, lowering the club’s home ledger to 22-6 SU and 11-17 ATS. The Heat are outscoring the opposition at home by an average of 10 points per game (103-93).
Despite the combined 177 points ducking well ‘under’ the 217-point closing total, the ‘over’ is still 32-27-1 in Miami’s first 60 overall encounters and 9-4-1 in the squad’s last 14 home dates.
Miami has used a suffocating defense to open a 4 ½-game lead over Orlando in the Southeast Division. The Heat are allowing an average of 94.4 PPG (6th), thanks to holding the opposition to a league-low 42.7 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent from beyond the arc.
TNT will follow this game up with the Denver Nuggets visiting the Utah Jazz to cap its weekly televised twinbill.
Orlando returns home Friday for a meeting against the Chicago Bulls, while Miami travels to San Antonio for a Friday matchup against the league-leading Spurs.