NBA Odds: LeBron James, Miami trek to Atlanta

By: Barry Daniels | Sunday, April 10, 2011

Checking the points, plugs, oil and air in the tires will be on the menu Monday night (4:00 p.m. PT) when the Atlanta Hawks host the Miami Heat in a battle of Southeast Division foes that have already clinched playoff spots.

Miami will be at a scheduling disadvantage in this spot. The Heat will be playing their third game in four nights, as well as the second half of a back-to-back situation.

Erik Spoelstra’s Heat will be traveling to Atlanta after playing a nationally televised Sunday afternoon contest at home against a Boston squad that is tied with them for the Eastern Conference’s second seed.

Prior to Sunday’s game against Boston, the Heat had won eight of their last 10 outings straight-up. But they are 4-6 ATS during that span, lowering their spread ledger to a less-than-impressive 37-41-1 overall.

Miami has had little trouble putting the ball in the basket during that 10-game stretch, registering 100 points or more eight times. The surge has lifted Miami’s offense to eighth best in the league, averaging 102.2 points per game.

Much of that offensive prowess can be attributed to Miami having the second-best field goal percentage in the league at 48.1 percent. The Heat are also making 36.8 percent of their three-point shots, which ranks eighth.

Defense has also been a strong suit, as Miami ranks eighth in the league by allowing 95.1 points per game. The Heat are allowing the opposition to shoot just 43.3 percent from the field, which ranks second.

Miami got ready for Sunday’s showdown against Boston by defeating Charlotte on Friday as 13 ½-point home favorites, 112-103. The combined 215 points soared well above the 188-point closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 41-37-1 in Miami’s first 79 overall outings.

The Heat received 77 points combined from the Big 3 of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. That included 27 points from Wade in his first game back since bruising his right thigh last Sunday.

Atlanta is solidly entrenched as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, but the club is not happy with the way it is entering postseason play.

The Hawks dropped their fourth straight game Saturday when the Washington Wizards handed them a 115-83 spanking. The Hawks closed as 2 ½-point road favorites, which lowered their spread record to a dismal 37-43.

The combined 198 points ducked below the 201-point closing total, which allowed the ‘under’ to cash in six of Atlanta’s last eight games. The ‘under’ is 46-34 in the Hawks’ first 80 overall efforts.

Atlanta continues to play without Josh Smith, who has missed the club’s last three games with a sprained knee. However, the Don Best Sports injury report lists Smith as “probable” for Monday’s contest.

Al Horford led the Hawks in Smith’s absence against the Wizards by scoring 21 points and hauling down 10 rebounds.

The Hawks are 24-16 SU at home, but just 16-24 ATS. The ‘under’ is 23-17 in their first 40 home dates.

Miami has captured two of the first three meetings against the Hawks this season, with the ‘under’ cashing on two occasions.

The first matchup (Dec. 4) saw the Heat register an 89-77 victory as 8 ½-point home favorites. The total closed at 192 ½ points.

Atlanta got its revenge in the meeting on Jan. 18 by notching a 93-89 overtime victory as a 5 ½-point road underdog. Despite the extra session, the game still ducked ‘under’ the 194-point closing total.

The most recent meeting (March 18), saw the Heat record a lopsided 106-85 victory as 6 ½-point road favorites. This was the lone game to go ‘over’ the total, which closed at just 187 ½-points.

The favorite is now 7-3 in the last 10 series meetings between the Hawks and Heat, with the ‘under’ going 13-5 in the last 18 series matchups.

Miami concludes the regular season Wednesday with a road game against Toronto. Atlanta ends its regular season with a Wednesday trip to Charlotte to play the Bobcats.

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