Los Angeles Clippers at Miami Heat (-5.5, 209.5)
Two of the most talented - if underachieving - teams in the league thus far square off when the Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. The defending champion Heat have won two straight, but they've hardly looked like a slam-dunk pick to repeat, dropping road games to lowly Philadelphia and banged-up Brooklyn. The Clippers might have been looking ahead to the showdown with Miami when they lost 98-90 at Orlando on Wednesday, snapping a three-game winning streak.
Miami hasn't had trouble finding the basket, topping 100 points in each of its first five contests - a franchise record to start the season. Los Angeles lit up the scoreboard through its first four games before going cold against the Magic. The teams split a pair of matchups last season with the home team winning each; Miami has won four straight at home in the series.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, TSN
LINE: Miami opened 5.5 and went as high as -6. The total opened at 210.5 and is down to 209.5.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Clippers (-12.5) - Heat (-15.0) + Home Court (-3.0) = Heat -6
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (3-2, 3-2 ATS): Los Angeles was red-hot before falling flat in Orlando, posting its two lowest-scoring quarters of the season including a 16-point effort in the fourth. The shots wouldn't fall, as the Clippers went 3-for-19 from 3-point range and shot 37.9 percent overall. The performance certainly was not indicative of a team that shoots 47.5 percent for the season and has four players averaging 17 points or more.
ABOUT THE HEAT (3-2, 2-3 ATS): Miami was impressive in its 104-95 win at Toronto on Tuesday without forward Chris Bosh, who was with his wife for the birth of a child. Bosh will be back against the Clippers, and the Heat seem to have received a wake-up call from their two early losses. They still boast one of the most talented lineups in the league, and LeBron James is again putting up huge numbers with 25.6 points, eight assists and 5.6 rebounds per game.
* Over is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings in Miami.
* Over is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings.
* Home team is 15-5-1 ATS in the last 21 meetings.
* Clippers are 0-5 ATS in the last five meetings in Miami.
Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets (-13, 218)
Dwight Howard faces his former team for the first time when the Houston Rockets star center leads his team into a home matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Howard had one rocky season with the Lakers before jumping ship and signing an $88 million deal with the Rockets this offseason. He was booed in a return to the Staples Center to play the Clippers on Monday, but is off to a solid start with Houston, including a 29-point, 13-rebound effort in a 116-101 win at Portland on Tuesday.
Without Howard in the fold and still playing without injured superstar Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles has limped out of the gate, giving up an average of 109 points, second-most in the league entering play Wednesday. Lakers starters produced 32 points on 12-of-34 shooting in a 123-104 loss at Dallas on Tuesday. Point guard Steve Nash continued his slow start with five points and four assists in 20 minutes.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE: Houston opened as -13.5 and has come down to -13. The total opened at 217.5 and is up to 218.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Lakers (-4.6) - Rockets (-12.0) + Home Court (-3.0) = Rockets -10.4
ABOUT THE LAKERS (2-3, 3-2 ATS): According to Elias, Tuesday was the first time since the NBA-ABA merger that no Lakers starter scored more than 10 points. It continued an inconsistent start without Bryant that has coach Mike D'Antoni going back to the drawing board. "You can't get blown out and then think now we need to learn to win," he told reporters after the loss to Dallas. "No, we need to learn how to play."
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (4-1, 3-1-1 ATS): Given that it came the night after a blowout loss in Los Angeles, the Houston win in Portland was impressive. The Rockets shot 54.7 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Trail Blazers by a whopping 47-30 margin and seemed to get stronger as the second half of the back-to-back dragged on, outscoring Portland by 10 points following intermission. With Howard leading the way with an NBA-high 14.6 rebounds entering Wednesday's action, Houston ranks second in rebounding differential (10.2).
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Houston.
* Over is 9-2 in the last 11 meetings.
* Lakers are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings.