The Heat host the Nets Sunday afternoon in the third and final meeting between these teams this season. The Nets won two consecutive games against the Heat in January, but Jimmy Butler missed both of those games while recovering from COVID-19.
The Nets are coming off of a 130-115 win over the shorthanded Hornets on Friday as they are just one game behind the 76ers for first place in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, the Heat are looking to bounce back after a horrific 119-111 loss to the Timberwolves on Friday.
Irving and Durant Lead the NetsIf the Nets cover as road favorites, they will need Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to play at a high level. James Harden (quad), Tyler Johnson (knee), and Chris Chiozza (hand) are out indefinitely. LaMarcus Aldridge will not return to the court for the Nets as he retired on Thursday due to health concerns stemming from an irregular heartbeat.
The Nets are favored as Irving and Durant should be able to score at will. The Heat picked up Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline to solidify their defense at the point of attack, but with him out (and Butler and Iguodala - two of the best off-ball defenders in the league - both questionable), Irving should be licking his chops. Irving has the best handle in the NBA, and he should take advantage of favorable matchups when players like Herro, Nunn, Dragic, or Robinson are in front of him.
Durant hasn’t played a ton of basketball since his return from a quad injury, but he has been incredibly efficient lately. Durant’s 133.3 points per 100 shots rank in the 96th percentile among forwards while his 23.7% assist rate ranks in the 98th percentile.
I asked Kevin Durant about dribbling up the floor and shooting over people as if they aren’t there:— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) April 17, 2021
“It’s good to have that shot in my pocket.”
On the “running pull-up jump shot” that Durant has mastered:https://t.co/lnCPhVhITx
If the Nets get their role players to play well alongside Durant and Irving, it could get ugly for the Heat in a hurry. Joe Harris’s 48% accuracy on threes this season ranks in the 98th percentile among wings (per Cleaning The Glass). DeAndre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton continue to put pressure on the rim and can give the Nets easy buckets when the defense over-commits to their superstars.
The Nets’ bigs will also need to take advantage of the Heat’s poor rebounding as Miami ranks among the bottom six teams in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates. Jeff Green, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Bruce Brown, and Landry Shamet also give the Nets defensive versatility while making smart reads to be in the right position to score on offense.
Heat Need an Assertive AdebayoIf the Heat cover or pull the upset at home, they will need Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to play aggressively on offense while at least one of Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro get hot shooting from beyond the arc. Jimmy Butler (ankle) and Andre Iguodala (hip) are questionable to play on Sunday while Gabe Vincent (knee) is probable. Victor Oladipo (knee) remains out indefinitely.
The Heat need Butler available if they hope to win. He and Adebayo will need to be assertive offensively as they sometimes have a tendency to play passively or over-pass when they have decent shot attempts available. While they have their shooting limitations, both are at their best when they can consistently drive to the bucket and make plays for others when the defense collapses.
In the two previous matchups with the Nets in late January, Adebayo took the second and third-most shot attempts of the season (19 and 20) as he scored 26 points and a career-high 41 points in those two games without Butler available. The Heat will need Adebayo to play assertively again and take advantage of a Nets frontcourt that simply can’t stay in front of him in isolations.
Jimmy Butler on Bam Adebayo's aggression, "I want Bam to attack the rim, cause nobody can stand in front of him...I like the mid-range jumper, but he lets people off the hook. I like bully ball."@5ReasonsSports— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) April 17, 2021
The Heat will need at least one, if not both, of Robinson and Herro to shoot at a high level from beyond the arc in order to make up for Oladipo’s absence and their defensive shortcomings. Robinson has played some of his best basketball since the trade deadline as his 153.9 points per 100 shots rank in the 99th percentile among wings, per Cleaning The Glass. His 52% shooting from beyond the arc over that span ranks in the 97th percentile. Herro will need to step up as he has made just one of his last 12 three-pointers over the Heat’s three-game losing streak.
Despite Oladipo’s absence, the Heat remain an elite defensive team with Butler and Adebayo leading the way. The Heat have a plethora of smart and athletic defenders who can switch along the perimeter and make life tougher than normal for Irving and Durant like Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza in addition to Butler and Adebayo. The Heat’s biggest weakness is at the point of attack, and they will need a collective effort to make sure that Irving doesn’t have a huge night against the likes of Herro, Nunn, and Dragic.
- Nets are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS win.
- Nets are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games as a favorite.
- Nets are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Sunday games.
- Heat are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as a home underdog.
- Heat are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games following a straight-up loss.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Assuming Butler plays, take the Heat to cover as home underdogs. The Heat are coming off of possibly their worst loss of the season, and I expect them to make a fast start as they will be more motivated than ever this season to put together a quality performance. Adebayo should be aggressive after Butler singled him out in his post-game comments Friday, and Adebayo already scored a career-high 41 points against the Nets earlier this season. Don’t be surprised if the Heat pull the upset behind a strong showing from Butler, Adebayo, and Robinson, but if Butler is out (the Heat may save him to play the second leg of the back-to-back on Monday in the more winnable game against the Rockets), take the Nets to cover by up to seven points.
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the over as neither team will be able to stop the other’s best players. Durant’s pull-up jumpers are unguardable, and if he gets in a rhythm, the Heat won’t have an answer. Irving should be able to take advantage of the Heat’s point of attack defense and generate looks for himself or shooters on the perimeter. The Nets’ frontcourt doesn’t have anyone with the necessary speed and strength to stay in front of Adebayo, and this should also help Robinson get quality shot attempts on dribble handoffs. There also will be even more value on the over if one of (or both of) Butler and Iguodala are out.