Heat vs. Hornets Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Both teams could use some momentum going into the break. The visiting Heat are coming off of a 107-99 home loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday after blowing a 11-point third quarter lead. Miami couldn’t get anything to drop on the perimeter while playing without Tyler Herro as the Heat finished 7-of-27 on 3s (25.9%) and snapped a five-game winning streak.
The Hornets have had a rough February as they have lost eight of their last nine games after losing 126-120 in overtime at the Timberwolves despite holding a 13-point fourth quarter lead. Since Jan. 20, the Hornets are now 0-9 against teams with winning percentages at .500 or better.
Will the Heat get a win on Thursday to get back into a tie for the lead in the Eastern Conference, or will the Hornets finally get a much needed win over a winning team?
Heat’s Shooters Can’t Go Cold Again
Butler (right shoulder strain), Caleb Martin (Achilles) and Udonis Haslem (eye) are questionable to play, though Butler and Martin are expected to play. Tyler Herro (knee), Dewayne Dedmon (personal), Markieff Morris (neck) and Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) all remain out.
The Heat’s defense has been elite all season, even during prolonged absences from Butler and Bam Adebayo. Their big question marks come on the offensive end as they scored 31 points in the last 21 minutes of play on Tuesday without Herro. The Mavericks seemed to bother Butler by putting bigger defenders on him to prevent him from getting into his post-up game, and the Heat offense crumbled with its shooters having an off night.
With Herro’s bucket-getting ability absent again on Thursday, the Heat’s shooters like Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Gabe Nnamdi Vincent need to step up. These three had one of their worst collective shooting nights on Tuesday as they combined to shoot 2-of-15 on 3-pointers against the Mavericks.
Can the Hornets Hold the Heat in the Halfcourt?
The Hornets started the season off as an elite offensive team and a terrible defensive team. Entering the new year, the Hornets had the second-best Offensive Rating in the league (113.6) and the 26th Defensive Rating (113.5). Since the Jan. 1, the Hornets have fallen to 23rd in Offensive Rating (110.6) while the defense has improved slightly to 11th in Defensive Rating over that span (111.3).
The Hornets don’t have a defensive anchor when Mason Plumlee isn’t on the floor, which is about half of each game (the Hornets’ defense is 6.5 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court, the highest differential for any player on the team, per Cleaning The Glass).
If the Hornets hope to cover or upset the Heat, they need to get hot from beyond the 3-point line, limit the Heat’s fast break opportunities and force Miami to play in the halfcourt. The Heat allow opponents to take the highest frequency of 3-point shots in the NBA (42.6% of opponent shots) and their defense is designed to limit shots at the rim. Players like LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges need to be efficient from beyond the arc.
The Hornets’ defensive issues won’t disappear overnight, but they need to force the Heat to beat them in the halfcourt instead of in transition or on hit-ahead passes from Lowry to Butler and Adebayo. The Heat feel like they are one driver short on offense (which is a reason why Oladipo’s potential return is a big deal), especially without Herro’s three-level scoring ability, so forcing them to operate in the halfcourt instead of getting easy buckets in transition will be key.
Cody Martin (Achilles) and Jalen McDaniels (ankle) are both out Thursday while Gordon Hayward (ankle) remains out indefinitely. Yes, brothers Caleb and Cody Martin are unfortunately twinning with the same Achilles injury right now.
Butler and Adebayo should have more favorable matchups against a much less disciplined Hornets defense than they did against the Mavericks. Adebayo has averaged 23 points in each of the two previous meetings between these teams, and with Cody Martina and Jalen McDaniels out, the Hornets will be without two of their better wing defenders.
This means that the Heat should have some opportunities to score inside, and if the Hornets double, shooters like Robinson, Strus and Vincent will have open looks on the perimeter. The Heat’s shooters should bounce back from an outlier poor performance on Tuesday and be plenty motivated to head into the All-Star break with a win.
The Hornets have consistently lost to bad teams, and the Heat have beaten them by 15 and 18 points in their two previous meetings this season. The Hornets are a bad defensive team, and even though the Heat’s offense lacks juice without Herro available, they should execute at a high enough level with Lowry, Butler and Adebayo leading the way to take advantage of the Hornets’ weaknesses and win comfortably.
Take the Heat at -5 to cover on DraftKings with value down to -6.5. If the number gets any higher on the full game spread, target the Heat at -4 or better in the first half as they should start strong.
In addition to a one-unit play on the spread, parlay the Heat at -5 and under 226.5 (down to 224) at +264 for a half unit as the Heat have held the Hornets to an average of 92.5 points per game in two prior meetings, and the Heat’s offense won’t be as potent without Herro.
Pick: Heat -5 | Under 226.5 and Heat -5 Parlay (+264)