Brooklyn hopes to end slide as seven point underdogs on the road
The Brooklyn Nets are in somewhat of a free-fall right now. They had lost their previous two games headed into last night by only six combined points. However, the Nets were absolutely embarrassed on Friday against one of the worst teams in the NBA. Brooklyn went into Atlanta as favorites, but they ended up getting crushed by the Hawks by a final score of 141-118. The Nets allowed Atlanta’s starting five to put up 114 total points! By the end of the game, the Hawks’ starting five managed to outscore Brooklyn’s starters by 33 points. The Nets will be looking for a bounce-back win tonight, but it will be incredibly tough as they will go on the road to face off against the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
This will be the final matchup of the regular season between the Heat and the Nets. The games between these two teams have been incredibly close though, with the winning team only coming out on top by an average of 3.5 points per game. The first time these squads faced off was back on the first of December. The Heat were down 106-99 with 1:45 to go in the game, but Miami went on a 10-0 scoring run to steal the 109-106 victory from the Nets. The outcome of the next game these teams played was eerily similar. Miami led 111-109 with 1:42 to go, but the Nets finished the game on a 9-2 scoring run to end up with the 117-113 victory. I think tonight’s game will be just as close as the previous two match-ups in this series.
The Heat have underperformed recently. Back on February 3rd, they had a 34-15 record. However, they have gone 3-7 in their last ten games with two of their wins coming against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the two worst teams in the NBA this season by record. Some of the blame for their recent struggles can be pointed to Andre Iguodala, who was traded to the Heat back on February 6th. The three-time NBA champion was brought on to be an impactful role player and bench player, but he has been the exact opposite since arriving in Miami. In just eight games with the Heat, Iggy has only managed to average 4.6 points per game coming off the bench. Miami will obviously have to look elsewhere for meaningful minutes because Andre Iguodala is not giving the Heat what they need right now.
Jimmy Butler has been the clear leader in the Miami locker room for most of the season. The former Minnesota Timberwolves forward is 25th in the NBA with 20.6 points per game so far this season. On top of that, he averages is averaging over six assists and six rebounds in almost every game this year. I am sure Jimmy Butler will continue to show his full potential and give the Nets everything he has tonight. In just two match-ups against Brooklyn this year, the former first round pick is averaging almost 27 points per game.
Furthermore, Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn have been an integral part of the Heat’s success in 2019 and 2020. Bam Adebayo is having a career year with Miami this season. The former Kentucky big man is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. His stellar performance even earned him a spot in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Also, Kendrick Nunn has come in and proven to be a key contributor for Miami in his first season in the NBA. The 24 year old shooting guard is fourth on the team in points with 15.7 per game on 44.8% shooting. These two guys will have to have success tonight if the Heat want to come out on top of the Nets.
The only reason I am hesitant to pick Miami to cover is because Brooklyn knows how to play this team close. In both previous match-ups against the Heat, Spencer Dinwiddie was lights out for Brooklyn, averaging 27.5 points per game on 50% shooting. My concern is how Caris LeVert has played though. The Nets’ second leading scorer was held to just 11 points on a night he shot below 30% in the lone game he has played against the Heat this season. I expect LeVert to return to form, but I still think the Heat have too much firepower for the Nets to handle. Brooklyn will cover the spread, but Miami will still manage to win the game at home because they are the better team.