Heat vs. Hornets Preview: Miami's Elite Defense Gives Over/Under Value

Action Network NBA analyst Roberto Arguello breaks down Friday night's Hornets vs. Heat game and shares his best bet for this Southeast Division matchup.

Heat vs. Hornets Odds

Heat Odds -6.5
Hornets Odds +6.5
Over/Under 223
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Miami Heat host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night in a matchup between two impressive Southeast Division teams.

Since falling behind by 23 points to the Pacers in their season opener, the Hornets have been red hot. They beat Indiana and are 4-1 this seasonThe Hornets started the season slowly as they fell behind by 23 points to the Pacers in their opener, but since then they have been on fire. Charlotte has a win over Brooklyn on its resume, while its only loss came on the back end of a back-to-back on Monday in overtime against the Celtics.

The Heat are 3-1 and like the Hornets, their lone loss came in an overtime game, although it was without Kyle Lowry against Indiana. Miami is riding high after an impressive 106-93 win in Brooklyn over the Nets on Wednesday.

Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 24 points in that game and will have the spotlight centered on him tonight as the Heat will retire his Olympic jersey to celebrate him winning a Gold Medal with Team USA in this past summer’s Olympics.

Miami’s Defense Defines Identity

Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) is the lone Heat player on the injury report as he remains out indefinitely.

The Heat have won with defense through four games, as their 91.1 Defensive Rating (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass) leads the league. Lowry’s addition gives the Heat a legitimate point-of-attack defender, which they have sorely missed over the last few seasons. P.J. Tucker gives Miami another bulldog on the perimeter with the versatility to switch and guard on the perimeter and in the post.

It was impressive to see the Heat switch immediately with Jimmy Butler, Adebayo and Tucker to make life a living hell for James Harden and Kevin Durant.

Offensively, the Heat are still a work in progress, ranking 20th in with a 105.9 Offensive Rating (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass). A big reason why the Heat haven’t been efficient offensively is because their shooters have started off cold. The Heat rank 25th in the league as they have made just 31.2% of their 3-point attempts.

The Heat’s top-four 3-point shooters — Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry and Max Strus — are each shooting below 32% from beyond the arc this season. Miami’s lockdown defense and Lowry’s ability to facilitate in transition will make it a formidable foe in the East, but it needs its shooters to heat up to take another step forward and become a juggernaut on both ends.

Charlotte Defense Needs to Step Up

Terry Rozier (ankle) is questionable to play against the Heat while P.J. Washington (knee) is doubtful.

The Hornets have been absolutely electric offensively with LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges each making leaps forward from last season. Ball is shooting 7.4 3-pointers per game this season (up from 5.1 per game last year) while increasing his 3-point percentage from 35.2% to 45.9% (albeit in just five games).

Ball remains a huge weapon in transition with his incredible passing, while Bridges is a primary beneficiary of Ball and the Hornets’ pace.

After averaging 13 or fewer points per game in his first three seasons, Bridges is up to 26.2 so far this season, registering more than 30 points in three of five games. Like Ball, Bridges has increased his 3-point volume from 4.4 attempts per game to 7.6 while remaining steady at 39.5%.

Overall, Bridges is near 50/40/90 shooting, while displaying better passing skills and showing that he can now get his own shot consistently, in addition to the jaw-dropping alley-oops that he has dazzled us with over the past few seasons.

While the Hornets rank second in Offensive Rating at 116.4 (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass), they rank a middling 21st in Defensive Rating at 110.8.

This sets up an intriguing matchup with the Heat. The Hornets need to limit Miami’s chances to score inside with Adebayo and Butler and force the Heat to take as many jump shots as possible, especially considering how cold they have been from beyond the arc.

Heat-Hornets Pick

While I lean slightly toward the Hornets on the spread, I like better value elsewhere on the board.

The total for this game sits at 223.5. Four of the five Hornets games have gone above 223 points while three of the Heat’s four games have gone below this number. Something’s gotta give!

In a clash between an elite Hornets offense and elite Heat defense, I’ll ride with the defense tonight. Charlotte’s offense has been impressive, but potentially being without Rozier and Washington puts more pressure on Ball, Bridges and Gordon Hayward.

However, the Heat’s elite defense has the horses to slow these three, and I am expecting some shooting regression to the mean from Charlotte tonight.

The Hornets have been incredible so far offensively, but they have yet to face a defense that has a top-10 Defensive Rating this season. The Heat’s defense is an entirely different animal, and they will bring the Hornets back to earth tonight. Miami’s shooters, meanwhile, have started off slowly, and I’ll take my chances on fading them before they heat up.

Take the under at 223.5 at BetMGM with value down to 221. If you want to take a chance and bet this game live, I recommend betting the live under when Kyle Lowry goes to the bench since the Heat have played significantly faster with him on the court than off.

Pick: Under 223.5 (bet down to 221)