Miami at Atlanta
Time: 6 PM CST (TNT)
Spread: MIA -6
The Atlanta Hawks are 2-2 and were off to a hot start before Trae Young’s ankle turned over, putting the Hawks’ star player out for at least a week. With Young unable to go in this one, the Hawks host visiting Miami as 6-point underdogs to the Heat.
The over/under is set at 216.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Atlanta really was off to a nice start for itself, but it has been heavily reliant on the emergent talents of second-year point guard Trae Young. Young delivered. Prior to going down with the injury, he was on fire, and even with that incomplete game averaged in, Young is averaging 26.8 points, five rebounds, and 7.3 assists in under 30 minutes a game.
With his services unavailable, expect forward John Collins to take on a massive role. Collins ranks No. 2 in scoring at 18.3 points per game, but with Young out, he will have to score 20-plus regularly. Jabari Parker, too, should see an increased role as a second-unit scorer whose talents may be more heavily relied upon than the 21 minutes a game he has seen thus far. Also, the Hawks will need its three rotational rookies to step up and be ready now.
That means De’Andre Hunter, Bruno Fernando, and Cam Reddish. Hunter has had his moments so far but averages under 10 points per game despite 27 minutes a night. Reddish has struggled badly, but Fernando is probably the success story so far of the three. His defense has been exceptional, and he is very physical against second-unit big men.
Fernando is averaging just 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game but his defense has been timely and good. The Hawks were suspected to have something of a depth issue going into this season, but it has surprisingly utilized 11 players thus far quite effectively. Eventually, Fernando will probably take Alex Len’s starting spot and the Hawks will then start three rookies alongside Collins and sophomore Trae Young. With such an exceptionally young team at 2-2, if Atlanta can manage to stay afloat till Young returns it could make a surprising playoff run in 2019-20.
Miami is 3-1, and of course, it won the last game which was a match between these teams. This marks the second in the schedule against one another, with the obvious switch in venues. Miami took care of business at home.
The Heat welcomed back an aggressive Jimmy Butler, who scored 21 points on 5 of 11 shooting in his Heat debut. Butler got to the line to hit 10 of 15, and he also added five rebounds, two assists, and three steals. But the show was largely stolen by rookie Tyler Herro. Herro shot 16 free throws, one shy of Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat rookie record, en route to 12 of 16 from the line, 7 of 9 from the field, 3 of 4 from three, and a total of 29 points in 29 minutes. The high billing Miami had for Herro appears very legitimate: He has a quick trigger and a knack for finding his own shot. Along with veteran Goran Dragic, the Heat have one of the best second-unit backcourt rotations in the East.
Rookie Kendrick Nunn has been exceptional. He scored 18 or more in his first three games and had 17 in the last outing. Nunn is shooting 48.6 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three while averaging 21 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game. If he continues this torrid pace he will be a lock for the All-Rookie team.
With Nunn emerging and Bam Adebayo taking on a massive role (promoted by the trading of Hassan Whiteside), the Heat have a very new look. Its offense is basically led by two newcomers in the first unit and its best bench scorer is a newcomer in Herro.
With its 3-1 record and so many pleasant surprises, Miami could easily find its way to a top-4 finish in the East despite having a billing as a “slight favorite” over Orlando in the Southeast division in NBA futures betting at Bovada.