The Miami Heat enter tonight’s game in Utah 1-2 on their current six-game road trip. After losing the first two at Indiana and Portland, they got back on track with a big 128-99 win at Sacramento behind Mario Chalmers’ 34 points (10-13 three-pointers). The Jazz, too, redeemed themselves in their previous game (vs Detroit) after squandering a 15-point third quarter lead the game before (vs Atlanta).
Can the Jazz keep the Heat under .500 on their road-trip? AccuScore simulations project Miami as the favorite, with a 59.5 percent chance of winning tonight. At first glance, I was surprised Miami wasn’t given at least a 65 percent chance at the win, but I soon realized the game is in Utah. The average score after 10,000 simulations is 99-94.5. Miami has a 52.7 percent chance of covering the -2.5 spread. The best bet to take in this game would be the under on the total; there is a 56.3 percent chance the total stays under 196.5.
Betting trend: The total has gone under in 4 of Miami’s last 5 games, and in 5 of Utah’s last 7 games.
Miami has a nearly three times the chance of getting a big win (10 points or more) than do the Jazz. I’m not sure if I necessarily agree with this projection. Utah is known for being much better at home than they are on the road (11-4 vs 9-15), and with such a big-name team in town, I expect the fans to be louder than usual. Utah has a good chance of losing tonight, sure, but I really don’t think they get blown out.
The Heat won the first meeting 105-89 on Dec. 22 in Miami behind LeBron’s 30 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Wade chipped in with 21 points. Keep in mind, the Heat whooped Utah without Chris Bosh that game, holding the Jazz to just 41 percent shooting. The Jazz also committed 20 turnovers.
Utah is projected to shoot 43 percent from the field tonight as opposed to Miami’s 46 percent.
The most positive stat in this AccuScore box score is the total turnovers for each team: both Utah and Miami are projected to get 14.6 turnovers. If Utah can take care of the ball better than they did last time against Miami (could they really get 20+ turnovers?), a win tonight really won’t be out of reach. Utah is projected to get four more offensive rebounds than Miami, and given that Miami doesn’t have much size in the paint, these extra possessions need to turn into easy buckets for Utah.
As of right now (11:15 AM PST), the spread is Miami -3. If you think Miami wins tonight, take the bet. Miami will cover those points if they win. If the game is close (let’s say, four points or fewer), Utah has a slightly better chance to get the win than does Miami.
Projected Stats (Rounded)
Al Jefferson: 20 points (45% shooting), 10 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
Paul Millsap: 15 points (47% shooting), 8 rebounds, 1 block
Gordon Hayward: 14 points (41% shooting), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
LeBron James: 27 points (51% shooting), 9 rebounds, 8 assists
Dwayne Wade: 19 points (46 % shooting), 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Chris Bosh: 15 points (49% shooting), 8 rebounds, 1 block
Interesting trend: When playing on Mondays, Miami is 7-3. Utah, on the other hand, is 3-7.
Game Prediction: Per Yahoo! Sports, James is averaging 30.4 points against the Jazz – his highest career avg against any team. I’ll take Miami by 7 tonight.
Originally written for AccuScore