Three things I detest about college basketball: Dick Vitale’s grating voice, Bob Knight’s
cantankerous arrogance and Duke’s incessant flopping. Last night, though, I made an exception to the latter, because that incessant flopping got me paid. Facing third-ranked Kentucky, the Blue Devils looked like bad actors in a low-budget Western movie, constantly crumpling to the ground the second they were breathed on. The refs fell for it all night, which is the only reason Duke was able to pull out a seven-point victory (and cover the three-and-a-half-point number), making me 1-for-1 in college hoops this season.
Back to the NBA tonight, and it’s more or less a duplicate of yesterday’s selection, as I’m
laying points against a defending champion. Why fade LeBron, Wade and Co. when they’re a rare underdog? Well, for starters, they’re in a bad spot here, playing their third road game in four nights and their fourth road game since Friday (and they play again tomorrow, in Denver). Secondly, Miami has only split its first four contests away from South Beach, going 1-3 against the number—and in three of those four road games, the Heat surrendered 104, 104 and 110 points. Third, they haven’t beaten the Clippers in Los Angeles since Dec. 9, 2007, going 0-4 SU and ATS in their last four visits. In fact, the home team is on a 7-0 SU and ATS run in this rivalry.
As for the Clippers, they’re riding a three-game SU and ATS winning streak, and all three victories were convincing (106-84 vs. the Spurs; 103-90 at the Blazers; 89-76 vs. the Hawks). Admittedly, the Clippers will likely struggle to contain LeBron and Wade, but with a deep bench, they can throw several different combinations at the two All-Stars. On the other hand, Miami has no answer for Chris Paul or Blake Griffin. And therein lies the biggest difference between these squads: The Heat can’t come close to matching the Clippers’ depth, which wouldn’t be a big deal if Miami was coming into this contest well-rested. However, it is a big deal when you’re playing for the third time in four nights, with another game at altitude just 24 hours away.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆
Tuesday’s Result: Duke -3.5 vs. Kentucky (win)