2004 Season NBA Basketball Past Picks
April 24, 2005
Brooklyn at Miami
Sunday 04/24 03:05 PM Eastern
3 units on Miami -8.5 (-110) (risk 3 to return 5.73) RESULT: WIN
The Nets/Heat series provides a more interesting matchup than most #1 seed vs. #8 first round series usually do. Miami dominated the Eastern Conference all season and finished with an impressive 59-23 record. The Nets struggled most of the year. However, they parlayed a late season surge with the fact that they play in the East rather than the West into a playoff spot. New Jersey, playing by far it's best basketball of the season finished on a 10-2 run. Will the highly favored Heat blow out the Nets as predicted? Or, will the Nets continue their hot play and play like the Eastern Conference Champions that they once were? It's hard not to like Jason Kidd and Carter has been playing great basketball. However, while the Nets may earn their backers a couple of pointspread covers, the Heat are currently listed in the -1000 range (takeback on New Jersey +750) to win the series for good reason. Simply put, the Nets have no one to stop Shaq. Also, New Jersey may well have already shot it's load, putting all it's energy into just making the playoffs. The Heat have won five straight games in this series, both SU and ATS, including a 3-0 mark this year. The Heat dominated those three games by an average margin of more than 20 points per game. Expect them to advance to Round 2 with relative ease While the Nets deserve a lot of credit for an incredible late season surge that catapulted them into this playoff spot, the bad news is that the end result will most likely be a first round exit at the hands of the best team in the Eastern Conference. Please do not read too much into the fact that Miami ended the regular season by going 3-4 S/U and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games. After all, the Heat clinched the top seed in the East ages ago, and they were just coasting down the stretch, holding Shaquile O?Neal out of most of those games. The bottom line is that the Heat still finished tied with San Antonio for the second best record in the NBA at 59-23, and you can bet that Shaq & Co. will be fully motivated now that the games count again. Miami was simply dominant vs. conference foes this season, finishing at 41-11 S/U against the East including 23-3 here at home, winning those conference home games by an average of 11.0 points! Yes the Nets overcame a 2-11 start, and they ended the year on a 10-2 run both S/U and ATS while winning those games by an average of 10.7 points. And yes, they have been rejuvenated since Jason Kidd returned from injury and Vince Carter was stolen from Toronto. BUT, all that being said, they had no answer for Shaq and the Heat this year, and O'Neal is usually even more unstoppable during this second season. Miami swept the 3 regular season meetings by margins of 25, 16 and 23 points respectively, and I expect another safe double-digit win here. Three stars on the Heat.