On Wednesday, the Heat and Lakers engage in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and the Heat vs Lakers matchup odds show the Lakers are currently a 4.5-point favorite. The Lakers took care of business in the Western Conference, losing just three games en route to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Heat equaled them in that regard, surprisingly sweeping the Indiana Pacers and losing just once to the Milwaukee Bucks, who were favored to win the East and taking out the Celtics in six games.
The Lakers are favored to win this series and the storybook ending (in Disney) seems to have LeBron James hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Can the Heat spoil the fairytale?
Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers
Date: Wednesday – 9 p.m. ET
Location: Orlando, FL
NBA Odds: Lakers -4.5
The Heat are here because their young cast has grown up quickly. Rookies like Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro were supposed to be developing in their first professional season. Instead, Herro is averaging 16.5 points per game in the playoffs while Robinson, a 3-point specialist, is averaging 11.3. With those players rounding out a roster that is centered around Jimmy Butler, the heart-and-soul of the team, and All-Star Bam Adebayo, the Heat are much better than they were expected to be. This is a team that plays as a unit and shares the ball. The Heat are sixth in assists per game in the postseason at 23.3 and stand in stark contrast to the Lakers, who run everything through two stars. The Lakers’ 20.7 assists per game are second-fewest in the playoffs.
The key here will be the Butler-James matchup as we’ll have to see if Butler -– one of the better defenders in the league –- can slow James. The Heat’s defense has been solid in the postseason, allowing opponents to shoot just 34.5% from “3′ (fourth-best), so if they can protect the “3,” they can make these games defensive, grind-it-out type of games and they’ll have the edge.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are a different team than the Heat: they’re built around two do-it-all superstars. Both are going to have to play really well because the supporting cast around these two is unreliable. James and Anthony Davis are combining for 55.5 points per game in the playoffs; only one other player (Kyle Kuzma) averages double figures. The good news for the Lakers is that the Heat haven’t faced any team with two superstars in the playoffs as the Indiana Pacers have none, the Milwaukee Bucks have one and the Boston Celtics have a number of burgeoning stars but no superstars. The Lakers have two of the top five players in the game and that could be a significant difference.
Game 1 is always tricky and the Heat play really well with rest (7-2 ATS and SU on two days’ rest), so look for them to cover but the Lakers to win a close one.