Alonzo Mourning Helps Miami Down the Stretch ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
|Mourning giving Miami second-half boost |
by Perry of BetWWTS
Miami fans and bettors likely have different feelings about their team these days.
Fans are no doubt pleased with the way the Heat have been playing. They have won 11 of their past 12 games and have pulled out to a 9.5-game lead in the Southeast (as of Tuesday).
And while receiving plenty of criticism for the recent moves he has made, team president and coach Pat Riley is now starting show why he’s considered a basketball mastermind.
For instance, the acquisition of 36-year-old veteran Alonzo Mourning last season is now looking like a stroke of genius. At the time, it was felt that acquiring Mourning, who received a kidney transplant a couple of years ago, was a sentimental gesture for an all-star at the tail end of his career.
But Mourning has played a key role for the Heat as a backup to Shaquille O’Neal. In the early part of the season when the big man was out with an ankle sprain, Zo received a lot of praise for his high-energy play.
Then on Sunday against the visiting Cavaliers, Riley raised eyebrows when he benched Shaq and played Mourning for more than nine minutes in the fourth quarter. The move worked as Mourning’s intensity ignited the Heat, who fought back from a seven-point deficit to beat the Cavs 98-92.
While fans have to be pleased with the win, the fact that the Heat had to come from behind is part of a disturbing trend whereby Miami starts slow and falls behind. Sunday’s game marked the fifth time in six games that Miami fought back to win after trailing at the half. In fact, the Heat have fallen behind by double figures in five of their past seven games, but have come back to win four.
The trend is not sitting well with Riley, and the use of Mourning in place of Shaq is no doubt meant to send a message to the starters. The trend is probably not sitting well with Miami bettors either. Despite having won seven of their past eight games straight up (SU), the Heat have failed to cover the spread in seven and have lost five straight against the spread (ATS).
Overall, the Heat have a fairly poor record of 29-32-1 ATS.
On Thursday, Miami will host the Boston Celtics in the opener of TNT’s Thursday night doubleheader (8 p.m. ET).
Unlike the Heat, Celtics fans and bettors have to be pleased with the team’s play of late. They are 9-5 SU in their past 14 games and are now driving towards the final playoff spot in the East – they are currently 4.5 games back.
A big factor in the team’s success has been the play of Paul Pierce. The 6-foot-6 swingman was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday after averaging more than 30 points last week.
Pierce led the team in scoring in all four games last week, during which the Celtics went 3-1 SU. The highlight of the week was Pierce’s first triple-double of the season in a 104-101 win over Philadelphia. Pierce had 31 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the game.
Pierce currently leads the Celtics in scoring (27.4 ppg), assists (4.8 apg), rebounds (6.8 rpg) and steals (1.4 stlpg).
Boston backers have also been pleased with the team’s recent success. The Celtics are 10-3-1 ATS in their past 14 games. And Pierce’s scoring surge has also meant higher totals – Boston has seen 10 of their past 14 games go OVER.
One cause for concern, however, is the team’s performance on the road. Boston has one of the NBA’s worst away records at 8-22 SU. On the bright side, they have won four of their past six road games.
Against the spread, the Celtics are just 14-15 ATS on the road overall but notably are 5-1 ATS in their past six. The Heat, meanwhile, have lost six straight ATS in Miami.
In the second game of the Thursday doubleheader, the Minnesota Timberwolves visit the Golden State Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET).
The slumping Warriors are just 2-9 SU and ATS in their past 11 games (as of Tuesday). Overall, they have one of the worst ATS records in the league at 29-34.
That said, the T-wolves are just 8-23 SU and 13-17-1 ATS on the road this season.