Friday Night NBA Basketball: Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Yes, the NCAA Tournament is grabbing all the headlines this week, and yes the NBA will inevitably take a backseat to the exciting bracket action playing out for the remainder of the month, however that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wealth of great options on the table for online sportsbook betting on NBA hoops this Friday. A number of quality NBA Basketball match-ups are set up to close out the week, so let’s jump into the best looking and most exciting option for betting on sports on pro hoops, which at the very  least could provide a lucrative supplement to the continued March Madness action in the days to come. For the top match-up on the evening in NBA Basketball, the Miami Heat (31-11, 13-9 away) make their third tough road stop of the week with a game against the Philadelphia 76ers (25-18, 16-8 home).

The 76ers will tip-off against the Heat tonight at 7:00 PM ET at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, in a match-up between two top NBA teams that have had plenty of recent struggles. Miami on the one hand has lost four straight road games, and will be looking to rebound tonight against a Sixers team they’ve beaten 9 consecutive times. Philadelphia on the other hand has played lackluster basketball since the All-Star break, but did manage to win three straight games before getting blown out at home by Indiana on Wednesday, 114-94. Therefore tonight’s game is a chance for both teams to get back on track, and with both squads getting a night off to rest, the action should be well worth a top sportsbook bet at one of the <a target=”_blank” href=””>best online sportsbooks reviewed here</a>.

Philadelphia on one hand plays the best defense in the league, allowing just 87.9 points/game, and hasn’t given up back-to-back 100+ point games to their opposition this season. Miami on the other hand ranks 2nd in the league in scoring at 102.5 points/game, but has struggled to close in the waning moments of their last two games, losing by 4 to Chicago on Wednesday and by 6 to Orlando in overtime a day earlier. The 76ers have played well at home recently, winning their last two games there, and have gotten a boost from improved play out of rookie Evan Turner (9 points, 6 rebounds/game), who has averaged nearly 22 points and just over 10 rebounds per game in his last four appearances. Philadelphia however continues to miss the presence of Spencer Hawes (10.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg), as their front court is a bit thin without him. That could again be a key absence tonight, as Miami is trying to recover from being outrebounded handily in their last 4 road games. Make note that the Heat have dominated Philadelphia in the paint in the two contests between them this year, holding a +30 rebounding advantage in the two meetings combined, and with Miami needing to improve on the glass and not having to deal with Hawes, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony could provide a big boost on the glass that could turn this match-up in Miami’s favor. It’s also noteworthy that Miami has beaten the Sixers by 21 and 22 points this season, playing one game and home and one at the Well Fargo center.

For Philadelphia to squeak out a win and avoid a 10th straight defeat at the hands of the Heat, their outside shooting and penetration has to be better, and they have to play well down the stretch. In the last meeting in Philly, Miami ripped of a 15-0 run in the second half, and outscored the Sixers 32-16 in the 4th quarter en route to a 99-79 win. The 76ers shot just 39.5 percent from the floor, and no starter scored more than 13 points in the loss. Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holliday will be two Philly players that need to boost their production tonight, as the two combined to go 9-for-23 in the last meeting, scoring 21 points, and along with Lou Williams, these three outside guys have to find ways to get around the bigger outside defenders of the Miami Heat in order for Philadelphia to have success. That’s a tough task especially with LeBron James playing at his top defensive form of his career, but if Philly’s outside guys can move the ball around well and find ways to drive into the lanes for higher percentage shots, they can also generate more open looks to Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Elton Brand, which in turn could keep Miami honest on defense. Make no mistake though, the Sixers will have to shoot well to win tonight’s ballgame, and will have to get good all-around efforts from their top-8 scorers (Philadelphia does have 8 players averaging north of 8 ppg, which is certainly impressive).

On Miami’s side of the ball, being big in the middle will pay dividends in this match-up, as it has in the previous two meetings with the Sixers. Chris Bosh (18.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg) first and foremost has to be better, as his form has been inconsistent in the past few weeks. He hasn’t had a single double-digit rebounding performance in the 5 games he’s played this month, and his scoring production has been down over the past two months (averaging 15.4 ppg in March, 14.5 ppg in February). LeBron James has been having to pick up the rebounding slack for the Heat, which isn’t optimal for transition offense. Therefore, Bosh and Udonis Haslem (5.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) could give Miami a hand by having a better presence in the paint, pulling down more boards against a smaller Philadelphia front court. One bright spot for the Heat on offense though has been Dwayne Wade, who is averaging north of 30 points per game in his last three contests. Getting both Wade and James moving quickly in transition, especially in the second half, could see the Heat once again pulling past the 76ers tonight.

Betting Lines for Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Betonline Sportsbook</a>

Looking across the top sportsbook betting options for this marquee NBA match-up tonight, first set sights on the money line, which finds the visiting Miami Heat as a -165 favorite to win straight up. With the Miami Heat winning their last 9 games against Philadelphia, including the last 2 match-ups by an average of 20.5 points, it’s safe to say that despite Miami’s recent woes, they could be in for a big turnaround tonight. Philadelphia on the other hand comes in as a +145 underdog at home straight up, which may be a risky proposition considering their previous form against the Heat.

Against the Spread, the 76ers at home are a +3 1/2 point underdog. Winning the last 2 straight games on their home court, the Sixers who are 5-5 in their last 10 games will desperately be seeking a victory tonight to right their ship, both on the season and in the series against Miami. The Heat on the other hand are a favorable -3 1/2 point favorite to win, which could make for a great bet banking on them to avoid a 5th straight road loss tonight.

The over/under on total points tonight puts the marker at 189 points. Miami has been struggling to score up near their season average recently, and with Philadelphia looking to play better defense around their season average of giving up just 87.9 points, a low scoring game just may play out and provide under pickers with a good chance at victory on this betting line.

Our Prediction:

Philadelphia, while playing well at home over their last 2 outings there, have not shown the ability to match-up with the dominant play of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, and will be at a disadvantage once again with Spencer Hawes still missing from the front court on defense. With Miami needing a much better rebounding game after being thoroughly beaten on the boards in their last 4 road losses, tonight looks to be the night the Heat get back into top form as a deep team on both sides of the ball. I especially don’t like Philadelphia’s chances, given the lackluster effort against Indiana this past week, but I do expect Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holliday, Lou Williams and Evan Turner to put together better showings in this match-up, making it a much tighter game than this series has seen recently. That said, look for Miami to walk out of Philadelphia with a  win that snaps their recent road woes, pulling out a 96-90 win.

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