The run that the Jimmy Butler-Miami Heat went on in the NBA bubble at the end of last season—coming out of nowhere to rip through the East before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals—ensured that expectations were sky-high for this team this season. Was that just a flukey run helped on by the bubble? Or are the Heat going to be a perennial contender in this league for a few more years to come?
Free Picks: Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets
Heat Try To Remain Relevant In Playoff Picture As They Host Nets (Season Betting Record: 84-88)
That remains to be seen in our view, but it’s not looking good for Butler and company right now. At the beginning of the season Butler had to miss a big chunk of time due to health and safety protocols, and many of his teammates were in a similar predicament. That was the excuse we used for Miami’s slow start. After that bad beginning, they won 11 of 12 games and welcomed everyone back on the bandwagon.
The really worrying thing is that they have not been able to maintain any semblance of consistency since that run in late February. After that stretch of success, Miami lost six straight, but then they won four in a row after that. Since that last streak, the Heat have gone 2-4 straight up, including losses in their last three straight outings.
Needless to say, bettors have not been able to trust Miami to be very bad or very good this season. And that’s all before discussing the fact that they have the second-worst record against the spread this year at 23-33, higher only than the pitiful Houston Rockets.
Miami is also 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall, so hosting a team like the Nets is not ideal for them right now. While Brooklyn remains without the services of MVP candidate James Harden, they do have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving going at full bore.
Blake Griffin has also looked rejuvenated since joining the squad and DeAndre Jordan has even lent a spark since being reinserted into the rotation. Joe Harris and Jeff Green (shooting 44 and 40 percent from deep in the month of April, respectively) have also been crucial performers for the Nets.
This is all to say that the Nets are indeed capable of picking up the pieces while Admiral Beardo is sidelined. They have gone 4-1 ATS in their last five and remain in spitting distance of Philly perched in first place. Brooklyn will be pushing to keep pace with them as well as to remain ahead of Milwaukee, so we like them to cover a -5.5 NBA Point Spread at solid -114 NBA odds as one of our top picks, especially considering Miami’s 1-5 straight up mark against the East’s top three so far this season.
While he hasn’t been putting up the most impressive stats since Beardo’s untimely injury, Irving is still a threat to drop 30 on a nightly basis, as evidenced by his 37- and 40-point outbursts over the past six games. Since Harden’s arrival, Irving has averaged just 22.3 points per game in contests in which the Beard didn’t play, which seemingly doesn’t bode well for a Kyrie bet on Sunday, right?
Not so fast. Irving, like many of the top players, rarely has bad nights. He does have them, though, and his 12-point performance in his last outing against the Charlotte Hornets will surely be on his mind when he takes the court on Sunday afternoon. Not only has Irving been better against the East than the West this season (28.0 vs. 26.5 ppg), he’s a predictable bounce back guy.
So far during this campaign, Irving has responded following a game of under 20 points by averaging 29.4 points a night in games following those bad outings. Clearly, Uncle Drew doesn’t like to stay down in the dumps for long, so we like him to top his 24.5 point prop at standard -125 NBA odds without issue, even against a tough defense like Miami’s.
- Brooklyn is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings
- Miami is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games
- Miami is 2-4 ATS as the home underdog this season
- Kyrie Irving has averaged 28.0 points in 25 games against the East this season
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.