Orlando Magic at Miami Heat (-5.5, 189.5 o/u)
Treading water. That’s what the Miami Heat (14-17, 6-11 home) seem to be doing as they wait for the return of Chris Bosh, who has been out due to a calf injury.
In his place, Dwyane Wade has been doing all he can to keep the team afloat. The All-NBA guard is averaging 29.8 points over the team’s last five games, though Miami has only managed to win three of eight without their star forward.
However, there may be reason for optimism in Miami, even though Bosh’s return date is not set. Overall, the team is playing better of late; they downed LeBron James and the Cavs on Christmas day, and then shot more than 51% in a recent 103-95 loss to the powerhouse Memphis Grizzlies.
The increased production is largely a result of Wade playing his best basketball of the season, but it is also tied to the play of Danny Granger (18 points against the Grizzlies) and Luol Deng. The latter scored 41 points during his last two games.
“We’re seeing improvement,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “We’re not over the hump by any stretch and we have to keep on working.”
As for Bosh, who was averaging 21.6 PPG and 8.2 RPG before going down to injury, he could be back as soon as tonight, but the team will have to wait and see.
“He was able to go through all of it,” Spoelstra said. “All we can do is wait and re-evaluate how his body feels.”
The Heat could undoubtedly use the Georgia Tech product tonight when they host the Orlando Magic (12-21, 8-12 away). Like the Heat, the Magic are also playing a little better lately. They won on Saturday, 102-94 against Charlotte, and are averaging 97 PPG during their last three contests (versus just 93.9 for the season). The recent offensive surge is thanks, in part, to the Magic’s shooting from beyond the arc, where they’re averaging just over 40% in the last three contests.
If Bosh does indeed return, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic will be given the assignment.
“I’m not really used to guarding players like [Bosh],” said Vucevic, who is averaging 18.1 PPG and 11.6 RPG. “Usually I’m around the paint, trying to help, but with him you can’t do that. With Bosh, you have to be really close, and if you help he gets those open shots.”
Trend-wise, there’s not much to rely on for tonight’s game; both teams are 5-5 ATS in their last ten. But, even if Bosh doesn’t return, Wade has the Heat rising. Take Miami and the lay the points (-5.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Andray Blatche and Chris Bosh) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)