Handicapping the NBA: Best Bets For Lakers-Heat Game 4

Handicapping the NBA: Best Bets For Lakers-Heat Game 4

This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.

Game 4 of the NBA Finals tips off at 9:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday with the Heat looking to build on the momentum of a Game 3 victory. Miami is still banged up, though, with both Goran Dragic (doubtful) and Bam Adebayo (questionable) battling injuries sustained in Game 1. 

Miami was able to weather those losses just fine in Game 3, as the Heat shot better than 50 percent from the field and got a monster performance from Jimmy Butler. On the other side, LeBron James (eight turnovers) didn't look like himself, while Anthony Davis (15 points on nine shots) was neutralized to a degree we've rarely seen since his arrival in Los Angeles.

As a pivotal Game 4 approaches, here are some betting angles to consider.

UPDATE: Bam Adebayo is expected to play. Goran Dragic will be a game-time decision.

All odds via the DraftKings Sportsbook

Point Spread: Lakers -7.5 points

Total: 219.5 points

The pick: Lakers -7.5; OVER 219.5 points

Game 3 was definitive proof that the Heat can compete in this series without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. But it took an all-time performance from Jimmy Butler, a complete disappearance by Anthony Davis, and a sloppy, turnover-riddled night from LeBron James. If Game 3 was a wake-up call, then Game 4 is the Lakers' opportunity to essentially slam the door shut on any chance of a Heat comeback. I expect to see a more focused James on both ends and the Lakers to do a better job of putting Anthony Davis in position to score – or at least make productive passes – in the halfcourt.

If there's a concern, it's that Miami still hasn't had a lights-out shooting game in this series. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Jae Crowder combined to go just 7-of-25 from three in Game 3, and Butler hasn't hit a three since Game 1. Meanwhile, the Lakers got a combined 38 points from Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris on Sunday – that's not happening again.

But on the other hand, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo were all negatives in Game 3, and you could argue that no Lakers other than Morris and Kuzma played an above-average game. With a chance to move within one game of an NBA title, my money's on the Lakers to lock down and take care of business in Game 4.

In terms of the total, this series presents some difficult obstacles. Chief among those: having to factor in how hard one side will play for quarters, halves, or, in the case of Game 3, entire games.

As demonstrated in Game 1, when the Lakers are focused and in sync, they're the best defensive team in the NBA. That same intensity wasn't present for most of Game 2, and it was completely abandoned in Game 3, when Miami took advantage of Davis' foul trouble to shoot 51 percent from the field and 63 percent from two-point range. If Los Angeles allows the Heat to score in the one-teens for a third straight game, this should easily clear that 219.5 number.

On the Lakers' side, it's hard to imagine the offense looking worse than it did Sunday. Kuzma and Morris salvaged a decent shooting night (14-42 3PT), but James' jumper continues to abandon him (1-5 3PT), while Davis took only nine shots in 33 minutes. Both stars – Davis, especially – should be much better in Game 4. But for LA's offense to function smoothly against a tough Heat defense, the Lakers will need to get something out of either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Danny Green, who are a combined 4-of-26 from three over the last two games. Caldwell-Pope has had his moments in these playoffs, but Green appears to have completely lost his touch. It was clear in Game 3 that the Heat will force him to earn back their respect before they distort their defense to run him off the line.

Shooting aside, turnovers were by far the Lakers' biggest issue Sunday night. James was a complete mess in the fourth quarter, while Davis did most of his sabotaging early on. The pair combined for 13 of LA's 19 giveaways. If the Lakers can clean that up even slightly, it should be enough to push the total north of 220.

PLAYER PROPS

LeBron James OVER 27.5 points (-139)

James bullied his way to 25 points in Game 3, but it was not a great offensive night for the three-time Finals MVP. Aside from committing eight turnovers, James went just 1-of-5 from three and struggled to create shots when the Lakers needed him most in the fourth quarter. Rarely does he have two poor games back-to-back, so I expect to see a much more aggressive and engaged version of James – the one we saw in a 33-point Game 2 effort – on Tuesday night. 

Duncan Robinson OVER 16.5 points + rebounds + assists (-107)

Robinson had his best game of the series Sunday, finishing with 13 points, five boards and three assists. While he's come and gone throughout the playoffs, Robinson has launched 17 three-point attempts over the last two games. Only five of those have gone in – a trend that figures to reverse at some point. If Robinson can hit three or four threes in Game 4, he'll be well-positioned to tack on a few rebounds and an assist or two to bump him over that 16.5 number. Most encouragingly, Robinson played a postseason-high 39 minutes in Game 3 after seeing 49 combined over Games 1 and 2.

Anthony Davis OVER 42.5 points + rebounds + assists (-125)

Whether Bam Adebayo plays or not, I like Davis to bounce back after his Game 3 disappearing act. Miami seems to have figured something out when it comes to defending the big man, but 42.5 is a low number for a player who posted 48 and 47 combined points + rebounds + assists in Games 1 and 2, respectively. Davis probably won't be as efficient as he was in Game 2 (15-20 FG), but I expect a significantly more aggressive mindset on both ends.

Jimmy Butler OVER 7.5 assists (+110)

After single-handedly dismantling the Lakers' defense on Sunday, you can bet that Los Angeles will come into Game 4 with a better gameplan. Maybe it will involve LeBron James spending more time on Butler. More likely, though, is the Lakers sending more help in Butler isolations – something they were far too hesitant to do in Game 3. Even with Butler mostly facing single coverage, he still managed to hand out 13 assists for the second consecutive game. The Lakers' number one goal will be to prevent Butler from beating them one-on-one. With more help likely arriving, I like Butler's chances to act as even more of a facilitator in Game 4. 

LeBron James to win Finals MVP (-250)

I might be jumping the gun here, but chances are James' odds will only get worse as the series goes on. Davis (+200) is not completely out of the picture, but there's a good chance his Game 3 no-show cost him an opportunity to steal it away from James, who has a massive narrative and legacy advantage. All things even, James would win the award. For Davis to win, he would have to hold a significant statistical edge – an unlikely outcome with a 15-point, five-rebound game pulling down his average.

As an aside: If you're a believer in the Heat, bet Jimmy Butler right now at +1000. If Miami somehow pulls it off, Finals MVP isn't going to anyone else.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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