Miami at Sacramento
Time: 9 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: SAC -2
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Miami Heat has won six of its last 10 and was active at the trade deadline, acquiring Andre Iguodala from the Memphis Grizzlies for an injured Justise Winslow. With Miami very much in the Conference title chase, the Heat are hoping Iguodala’s defense and leadership make a difference with its team.
Miami is the worst defensive team of the East’s top-6 clubs, allowing 108.3 points per game. The Heat are 2-point underdogs at Sacramento on NBA League Pass at 9 PM. The over/under is set at 220 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Miami Heat lead the Southeast division as one of the NBA’s early surprise teams. Miami has won its last two and is 34-16 thus far. Miami has won six of its last 10 games.
The Heat seems to be really adapting to having Jimmy Butler as its leader. He has increased the defensive intensity, and Miami’s offense ranks No. 13 at 112.1 points per game while holding opponents to 108.4, a win differential of +3.7 points.
Miami has moved past the play of Hassan Whiteside and instead promoted Bam Adebayo as the premier big man of the team. He has fully responded. Adebayo is averaging 15.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game while functioning as a post playmaker. Butler is the key cog, though, at 20.3 points and 7 assists per game. That is not to ignore the great play of undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn, the No.2 scorer behind Butler at 16.2 points and 3.5 assists per game. For a team that was expected to have offensive issues, it has been far from the case. Miami is shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent on threes (33.7 attempts per game). Rounding out the rotation is veteran point guard Goran Dragic and rookie Tyler Herro. Both have been essential.
While Dragic’s role has declined, he is still seeing 28.4 minutes per game and averaging just under 16 points per game. Herro is already a key rotation player, playing 27.7 minutes per game and averaging 13.2 points per game while shooting 39.2 percent from three. All in all, the Heat are both a deep and talented team and far better than expected. Credit some of that to Erik Spoelstra, but the rest of the credit falls on a team of players that are all outperforming preseason expectations. The Heat should be able to contend in the East. It poses a formidable threat to all of the contending teams, including the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat are wired for playoff success, and its acquisition of Andre Iguodala seems to be a move in that direction, towards better playoff success.
The Sacramento Kings are just 19-31 on the season, but the team has dealt with some injuries, and as usual, plenty of underachievement. Sacramento is again probably going to miss the postseason, which has been the case for the past decade-plus for a team that never manages to achieve the potential it seems to have on paper.
Credit injuries to its starting point guard DeAaron Fox and starting center Marvin Bagley for a lot of this failure. Fox has played in just half the games, and Bagley had missed all but one, through the first 20, but he is back albeit not quite in full-form.
That duo really is supposed to represent the cornerstone talents, along with Buddy Hield, and Sacto cannot manage to get all even on the court together this season. Hield has certainly thrived and is a borderline emerging star at shooting guard, though probably still a tier away from being an All-Star, particularly since he starts on a sub-.500 team.
Richaun Holmes has looked nice after not showing a ton his first five NBA seasons, and his emergence forced the Kings into an awkward situation of starting two true bigs at the 4/5 positions. While Holmes has continued to break out, the result has still been more consistent losing. Holmes is averaging 13.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in just under 30 minutes a night. Holmes then went down with an injury too, and he has been out for several weeks. Nothing manages to go right in Sacramento. Holmes is listed as questionable for tonight, so his return seems imminent.
Harrison Barnes is having a solid season as a King, and Bodgan Bogdanovic is a solid shooter, but the Kings are lacking the transcendental talents that would make Fox really succeed as the team’s leader in the backcourt. Fox averages seven assists per game, and one can only sense that figure as deflated on a team that is managing to muster just 44 percent shooting.
The Kings are attempting 35.4 threes per game and knocking down a solid 33.9 percent, but the scoring issues persist on a team managing just 105.9 points per game. The Kings need health first, but even a healthy roster this year still sees the Kings strike out on a postseason appearance once again.