#656 Miami Heatvs.#655 Phoenix Suns
Written by Chris Kubala
Phoenix Suns (22-48 SU, 34-35-1 ATS, 42-28 O/U) vs. Miami Heat (34-36 SU, 42-27-1 ATS, 33-37 O/U)
NBA: Tuesday, March 21, 2017, American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida, 7:30 pm ET
Line: Miami -12; Over/Under: 216.5
It’s an inter-conference matchup between a pair of teams looking to pick up a win meeting down in South Beach. The Phoenix Suns are on the road as they take on the Miami Heat Tuesday night. Phoenix lost their fourth straight and sixth in the last seven with a 112-95 defeat at Detroit Sunday. Miami had won six of their last seven before falling 115-104 at home to Portland Sunday. Phoenix holds a 32-24 advantage in the all-time regular season series between the teams. Miami has won 12 of the last 13 meetings but the Suns took a 99-90 win at home in the first matchup this season on January 3.
Phoenix was in the game for three quarters in Detroit but things fell apart in the fourth. The Suns were down just two points entering the fourth quarter but were outscored 35-20 in the final 12 minutes to go down in defeat. Phoenix couldn’t buy a bucket for much of the night as they struggled to shoot just 35.4 percent from the field in the contest. The shorthanded Suns were 6 of 22 from three point range, hit just 19 of 30 free throws and were beaten 63-47 on the glass. Six of the Suns were in double figures, led by Tyler Ulis’s 17 points and 11 assists. The bad news was that Phoenix had only eight players take the floor in the game.
The Suns are 9th in the league in scoring with an average of 107.3 points per game. The Suns are 6th on the glass by collecting 44.6 boards per game. Phoenix stands second to last in the league in assists with 19.3 per contest. Phoenix is 29th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 112.5 points a night. Eric Bledsoe leads the Suns with 21.1 points plus 4.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per contest. TJ Warren is chipping in 13.8 points plus 4.7 boards a night from the small forward spot. Devin Booker puts up 20.9 points per game while Brandon Knight is contributing 11 points and 2.4 dimes per game. Big men Marquese Chriss, Alex Len and Alan Williams along with Tyler Ulis and Jared Dudley have to contribute for Phoenix to have any kind of success. The Suns are 20th in the league in field goal percentage at 45 percent so far. The Suns are 27th in three pointers per game with 7.7 per contest. Phoenix is 26th in three point percentage as they splash only 33.8 percent of their chances from long range.
Miami lost for just the sixth time in their last 29 games but it was a costly one. The defeat, coupled with Detroit’s win, pushed the Heat to ninth in the Eastern Conference with the Pistons leapfrogging to eighth. The teams have identical records but the Pistons have the head to head advantage. Miami trailed by just one at the half but couldn’t stop Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers, who went for 49 points, 28 of which came in the second half. The Heat shot 46.1 percent from the floor and went 9 of 31 from beyond the arc. James Johnson had 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the loss off the bench for the Heat.
The Heat has had offensive struggles so far this season, ranking 23rd in the league with 102.9 points per game. Miami has been good on the glass as they are 13th with 43.8 boards per game. The Heat is 21st in assists with 21.4 per contest. Miami comes in 5th in scoring defense as they allow 102.1 points per game. Goran Dragic is currently leading the team with 20.3 points, 3.9 boards and six assists per game. Hassan Whiteside is the low post presence for Miami, contributing 16.7 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.11 blocks per game. Tyler Johnson is adding 13.7 points plus four boards a game off the bench while James Johnson (12.3 points, 4.9 boards), Josh Richardson (9.4 points) and Dion Waiters (15.8 points, 4.3 assists) are chipping in as well. Miami has gone with a short rotation thus far, which means Willie Reed, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt and Wayne Ellington have to contribute when pushed into playing time. Miami is tied for 15th in field goal percentage as they shoot 45.5 percent as a team. The Heat stands 12th with 9.9 three pointers a night and 12th in three point shooting at 36.5 percent.
Miami can’t afford another loss like they took at the hands of Portland if they want to stay in the playoff picture. Detroit just beat this same Phoenix team at home Sunday and squares off with the league worst Nets Tuesday night. That puts pressure on Miami to pick up a win to at least keep the same record as the Pistons and stay in striking distance. The Suns are shorthanded and they aren’t the same team without veterans like Bledsoe and Knight. Look for the Heat to come up with the win in this one as they climb to within a game of the .500 mark.
Phoenix has struggled all season long and things have gotten more difficult with the loss of the team’s leading scorer (Bledsoe), their leading rebounder (Tyson Chandler) and their leading bench scorer (Knight) of late. Miami is the league’s hottest team over the last couple months, going 23-6 since January 17. The Heat is dealing with their own injury woes as Waiters has a sprained ankle that he hopes to be back from before the regular season ends. Dragic missed a game with a swollen black eye and there are other nagging injuries hurting the rotation. Miami has to dig down deep to overcome these bumps in the road.
The under is 5-0 in the Suns last 5 overall, 4-0 in their last 4 games following a straight up loss, 4-0 in their last 4 games following a ATS loss and 4-0 in their last 4 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. Miami has seen the under go 4-0 in their last 4 Tuesday games and 5-1 in their last 6 vs. a team with a losing straight up record. The teams have gone under the total in six of their last eight meetings. Given the Suns’ recent inability to score much and the Heat’s good defense, you have to look to this one staying under the number as well.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.