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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates a basket during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Denver. The Lakers won 105-96.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates a basket during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Denver. The Lakers won 105-96.|Jack Dempsey | Associated Press
NBA

NBA Wednesday: Greg Frank picks Heat vs Celtics, Lakers vs Jazz, and Timberwolves vs Mavericks — can Utah cover against LeBron James?

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

0-2 Tuesday, 37-35-1 overall.

Heat (+6) @ Celtics (210)

Pick: Celtics -6

After a strong first quarter in Toronto, Miami steadily declined on Tuesday night, losing quarters two, three and four. Fortunately for the Heat, they were able to regroup in overtime and the Raptors only scored two points in the extra session, as Miami got out of Canada with a 121-110 victory over the defending champions. If I told you that an NBA team was going to lose three out of four quarters, find a way to win in overtime, then play the next night, would you be more likely to bet on or against that team the next night? It feels like a no-brainer to us that you should want to bet against that team. It’s still a small sample size, but at 4-2-1 ATS at home, Boston owns the fifth best home cover rate in the NBA. This was going to be a tough back-to-back for Miami all along. Given the way Tuesday played out, the result seems a little phony as is and would be something we’d want to bet against regardless of the next opponent for the Heat. It happens to be Boston on the second leg of a back-to-back. If the Heat are behind double digits in the fourth quarter, we’re guessing they’ll be content to take a split of this road back-to-back and head back to South Beach with a 2-1 road trip. We’ll give the six points needed to back Boston on hump day.

Lakers (+3) @ Jazz (209.5)

Pick: Jazz -3 and Under 209.5

Did you know the Los Angeles Lakers have not lost a game away from Staples Center yet this year? The purple and gold have only lost one road game and it was against the Clippers in their season opener. They’ve since won nine straight on the road. While we expected that streak to come to a crashing halt last night in Denver, we’re doubling down on our stance tonight and taking the Jazz to cover against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the gang. Utah is one of the NBA’s smaller markets and probably gets up a little more for this game as a result against a team garnering plenty of national attention. The Jazz are returning home after a five-game road trip and we’re expecting their fans to be fired up for this one. We like Utah to win and cover and will also play the game under the total as the winner of this game between two good under teams might not reach the century mark.

Timberwolves (+4) @ Mavericks (230)

Pick: Timberwolves +4 and Mavericks Team Total Under 116.5

For a half last night, it looked like our Mavericks fade had a chance. New Orleans played with Dallas for 24 minutes, going into the locker room trailing by six, just two points outside the four-point spread. However, the Pelicans ran out of gas in the second half and it got out of control as Dallas coasted to a 118-97 victory in The Big Easy. However, we’re going back to the well and betting against the Mavericks on Wednesday night when they return home to host the Timberwolves. Minnesota has been one of the league’s better road teams against the number going 7-2 ATS in away games. This is the highest total on the board tonight in the Association and while we lean to the under, our stronger plays are going to be to take Minnesota plus the points and the Mavericks to go under their team total. If the Timberwolves are going to stick around in the Western Conference playoff hunt, they’ll have to defend better as they rank in the top 10 in many offensive categories, but their defense still leaves a lot to be desired. All of that said, we think some of that is being a little over accounted for in the Dallas team total. While the Timberwolves are not a good defensive team, they’ve allowed more than 116 points in just seven of their 19 games in 2019-2020 thus far. If Minnesota is to cover this number, it is almost certainly going to prevent Luka Doncic and company from going bonkers offensively. Even New Orleans, one of the worst teams in the NBA, kept Dallas close to this number on Tuesday. We’re banking on Minnesota being slightly better than the Pelicans were against the Mavericks on defense and think that will not only lend itself to Dallas scoring less than 116.5 points, but a Timberwolves cover.

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