The Miami Heat need for Shaquille O’Neil to continue his good play when the NBA Central Division leading Detroit Pistons visit American Airlines Arena in Miami tonight with tip-off at 8 p.m. EST. Miami finds itself + 4-point home underdogs (total 182) to the Eastern Conference’s best team.
Miami showed its toughness in gaining a road win in Washington Wednesday night against the Wizards. Miami now trails Washington by just 3 Â½ games for the division lead and a guaranteed homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Â O'Neal punished the Wizards, who chose not to double-team him for most of the game, with 23 pts and 10 rebounds registering his 4th double-double of the season. Shaq scored 12 straight points for Miami during the third and fourth quarters tying the most consecutive points he has ever scored in a Heat uniform.
The Heat seemed to be in dire straights when Dwayne Wade dislocated his left shoulder on Feb. 21 in a collision with Houston’s Shane Battier. With only six weeks left in the regular season the Heat find themselves holding the seventh Eastern Conference playoff spot, but only a half game ahead of the eighth and final spot currently held by the New Jersey Nets. The bad news is Miami is only a game and a half ahead of the ninth place Orlando Magic.
Heat coach Pat Riley is playing his starters comparatively heavy minutes these days considering the age and injury history of players like O’Neal, Eddie Jones and Jason Williams. Jason Kapono’s emergence as a premier shooter gives Miami cause for hope that it can stay alive in the playoff hunt so a possible return by Wade late in the regular season could make them a formidable postseason foe.
The Pistons might take a little while to hit their stride offensively after being off since Sunday’s early afternoon game with Chicago, so it’s at least important that they are active and aggressive defensively early in the game. This is the first time the Pistons have played Miami since Chris Webber’s addition. He must avoid foul trouble when Miami, as it always does, attempts to get O’Neal off early especially because it’s uncertain how limiting Rasheed Wallace’s ankle injury will be.Â
Since losing Wade, Miami has gone 2-2 SU and has cashed ATS in three of those four games. In the last 10 games Miami has played, it covered in seven of them. In totals betting, the OVER and UNDER has split 5-5.
The Pistons have won 9-of-10 games SU but have only cashed ATS in half of their last 10 games. The UNDER has been a good wager in totals betting covering seven times in the last 10 games the Pistons played. Lines and totals for all NBA games can be found at offshore sportsbook BoDog.com.