Hawks vs. Heat Preview: How to Bet this Must-Win Game for Atlanta

Action Network editor Roberto Arguello breaks down how to bet Friday's NBA matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat and shares his best bet.

Hawks vs. Heat Odds

Hawks Odds -1.5
Heat Odds +1.5
Over/Under 228.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Miami Heat host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night in an important game for the Hawks. As of Thursday, the Heat have clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and consequently, the Heat have listed quite a few players on their injury report for Friday as it is unclear how many players they will rest.

On the other hand, the Hawks sit in the ninth seed in the East as the Brooklyn Nets hold the tiebreaker over them for the eighth seed. Atlanta needs to win out and get a Cavs win over the Nets tonight in order to have a realistic shot at finishing in eighth. Will the Hawks prevail in a must-win game, or will the Heat play spoiler shorthanded as they have already done so many times this season.

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Will the Hawks Hit Their Open 3s?

The Hawks only have one player, Lou Williams, listed on their injury report, so they will have a pretty full squad of players available tonight in Miami.

Regardless of whom the Heat trot out on the court, they will need to hit their open 3s against a Heat defense that loves to scramble and switch to prevent looks at the rim but is susceptible to flurries from beyond the arc.

Per Cleaning The Glass, the Heat’s defense allows the highest frequency (41.8% of shots) of 3-point attempts. However, the Heat defense has the fourth-best Defensive Rating (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass), thanks in large part to allowing the lowest 3-point accuracy (34.1%) in the NBA.

The Hawks will need shooters like Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, among others, to step up as a group and hit these shots that the Heat defense will give them. If the Heat are without more key players due to rest, the Heat’s defense could be a step slow without key connectors, as we saw during the Heat’s four-game losing streak a few weeks ago.

Strus is Loose for the Heat

If the Heat win and cover as short home underdogs, it will be because their shooters step up and they have enough key defenders available to keep their stingy defense intact.

The Heat have a long injury report. P.J. Tucker is out, and the following players are all listed as questionable: Gabe Vincent, Dewayne Dedmon, Omer Yurtseven, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Markieff Morris.

While they are not listed on the injury report, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Heat pull Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo or Kyle Lowry before the opening tip, so if you want to back the Heat, be sure they are playing first.

One key player in this matchup who isn’t listed on the injury report: Max Strus. Strus has been a key part of the Heat’s recent surge since that four-game losing streak as he was inserted into the starting five for Duncan Robinson, and the Heat have won five in a row since.

Strus, along with Tyler Herro, is one of the Heat’s only true three-level scoring threats, and he isn’t shy about taking shots. Strus’ minutes normally depend on how hot he, Robinson and Herro are after the first quarter, but with the Heat likely without several rotation players on the wing, he should have plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers tonight.

Hawks-Heat Pick

With so many uncertainties surrounding who will play for the Heat, I would either prefer a small play on the Hawks or a play on Max Strus’ player props. The Heat have come out shorthanded and had their backups step up at home several times this season, so I wouldn’t want to bet against them for more than a half unit here.

Because the Hawks have the shooters to punish the Heat’s defense, especially if the Heat are shorthanded and rotations aren’t as crisp, I think they are worth a small play in this must-win scenario.

Alternatively, if Strus’ odds pop up before game time, take him to go over his point total, with value up to Over 14.5 points, or over his 3-point makes, with value up to over 2.5 makes.

Pick: Hawks -1.5 (bet to -3)