Miami at Brooklyn
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA League Pass)
Spread: MIA -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Miami Heat are getting hot as the season reaches its midpoint. The Heat have won eight of its past 10 games to shoot to No. 4 in the Eastern Conference, looking much more like the team it was anticipated to be after its red-hot end to last season.
The Heat will travel to face the Brooklyn Nets as 3-point favorites Friday night in NBA action on League Pass. The over/under is set at 207 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Miami most recently has disposed of some quality opponents, proving itself to be among the elite in the East. The Heat knocked off the Toronto Raptors, then the Indiana Pacers, lost to the Chicago Bulls, then defeated the Milwaukee Bucks. Realistically, Miami could leap frog the Cleveland Cavaliers soon to position itself top-3 in the Conference for the 2018 playoffs.
The Heat get it done with one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the league. Team-leading scorer Goran Dragic averages ‘only’ 17.3 points per game, but Miami boasts a league-best eight players who average 10 points per game or more. The depth the Heat have has mitigated the effects of a somewhat disappointing season from Dion Waiters, who is averaging just 14.3 points in 25 minutes a night. Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson all are a part of that double-figure-averaging core, and the team has fit together nicely with great chemistry, which has to in part be credited to the deft coaching of one of the league’s best, Erik Spoelstra.
Of course, this would go all in ignoring the Heat’s strong defensive attack. Miami has several lock down defenders, and Johnson’s ability to swing on rotations and come up with blocks and steals can hardly be ignored. Even if Justise Winslow is failing to become an adequate offensive threat (just six points per game), his defense has been paramount in the reasons the Heat are able to control the league’s best perimeter scorers. Miami holds teams to just 101.8 points per game, which is why the team succeeds, despite a negative 0.6 point differential overall. As Miami continues to gel together, its defense will be what puts it over the top if it is to be successful in advancing to the second round of the 2018 playoffs.
Brooklyn has been bad, but perhaps not as poor as some might have suspected of a team reliant on young talent in the midst of a very difficult rebuild. The Nets are 16-29 and have a -3.2 point differential, but it has also been without D’Angelo Russell most of the season, and considering that, the season has to look like something of a success. After all, Brooklyn is not in the cellar, with a better record than both the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic, teams who were considered stronger than Brooklyn heading into this season.
Russell has played just 12 games this season and Jeremy Lin, just one. Adding its starting backcourt to the equation may make Brooklyn a .500 team, realistically. Instead, the picture has been mostly about the development of some young, unheralded talent. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddle, DeMarre Carroll and Caris LeVert hardly headline the roll call of house hold names, but all are averaging double figures, and Allen Crabbe came from Portland to be a nightly productive bench player for the Nets.
The team has six players (outside of Lin and Russell) averaging double-figures, and it is reasonable that when the Nets start getting draft picks again (a result of that horrific trade with the Boston Celtics) that they are able to craft a core competitive with the better teams in the East. For a team 13-games below .500, it could not really look any better, as odd as that seems to even say.