Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Betting tips and predictions | Jan. 3, 2024

Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat
The Los Angeles Lakers play the Miami Heat on Wednesday

The LA Lakers are in trouble, and to make things tougher, they host a formidable Miami Heat on Wednesday in a marquee contest that marks the first of their five-game home stretch. The Purple and Gold haven't been the same unit since clinching the IST and are 3-7 in their last 10 games and their performances can be labeled mediocre at best.

Their defense has been erratic, and the offense has stagnated with just LeBron James and Anthony Davis doing the chunk of the scoring. Injuries to a roster boasting depth and a tough December schedule have played their part in LA's slump, and the question is if they can start 2024 with a win.

They are up against the short-handed Heat who will be without the service of their superstar Jimmy Butler. The forward has been ruled out with a right foot irritation. Also missing the matchup are Haywood Highsmith (concussion) and Dru Smith (right knee surgery). That said, they still have to get past Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro if they intend to get past Miami.

The head-to-head record between the two teams puts the Lakers ahead of the Heat. In the 71 regular season games between the two, LA has 39 wins over Miami (32). This will be the second contest between these two teams with Miami taking the last one with a close 108-107 win at the Kaseya Center in November 2023.

Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Preview, betting tips, and prediction

Game details:

Teams: Heat vs Lakers

Date and time: January 3, 2023 | 10 pm ET

Venue: Arena, Los Angeles

Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Preview

The first question for LA will be about their starters. The team has been banged up with injuries and inconsistency, and the challenge for head coach Darvin Ham will be who he starts the proceedings with. Austin Reaves has been phenomenal coming off the bench, and chances are that he might cut to start.

If they indeed decide to lean back on defense, Reddish or Vanderbilt will start alongside James and Davis. The primary objective for the Lakers will be to start with a win.

Their biggest strength has been the one-two-punch combo of James and Davis. The 4x NBA champion is averaging 25.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game, and Davis adds 25.0 points and 12.3 boards, making his case for DPOY this season.

The Heat will rely on Adebayo and Herro, while also hoping for significant contributions from Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson who have blown hot and cold this season. Despite injuries, they still have the necessary firepower to get the better of the Lakers.

Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Starting lineup

The Lakers will be without Rui Hachimura. The forward's calf strain saw him ruled out of the contest. Gabe Vincent continues to be on the mend after a right knee surgery. D'Angelo Russell (left groin soreness) is a doubtful starter. James (non-COVID illness) is questionable. Davis (left ankle sprain) and Cam Reddish (left groin soreness) are listed as probable.

The starting lineup will most likely see D'Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Anthony Davis.

For the Heat, Caleb Martin (right ankle sprain) is doubtful, while Josh Richardson (back) is questionable. This will most likely see them stick to their previous game lineup against the LA Clippers which saw Erik Spoelstra deploy Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Jamal Cain, and Bam Adebayo.

Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Betting tips

Spread: Miami Heat (+6.5) vs LA Lakers (-6.5)

Moneyline: Miami Heat (+200) vs LA Lakers (-250)

Total (o/u): 226.5

Player props: Davis is the best bet on Wednesday with an o/u of 29.5 (-106 over and -120 under). James is up second with 27.5 (-111 over and -115 under). For Miami, Herro comes in with 23.5 (-104 over and -122 under), while Adebayo is 21.5 over and 22.5 under (-125/-118).

Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Prediction

The Lakers will bank on Davis and their pace to outbeat the Heat. James will look to have another spectacular night against his former team, and this might be the contest that will see LA hit their stride. Take the Lakers to come away with a win at home.

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Edited by Tejas Rathi