Heat vs Magic: Back Herro and Miami's Shooting

Kenny Ducey breaks down his betting prediction and pick for Heat vs Magic on Wednesday, December 20.

Heat vs. Magic Odds

Heat Odds +5
Magic Odds -5
Moneyline +168 / -200
Over/Under 220
Time Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Orlando Magic’s hot streak has quickly come to an end with four defeats in their last six games, but with Jimmy Butler out for Miami on Wednesday, the Magic have a golden opportunity to get right at home in their first game against the Heat this season.

Can the Heat prevail for just the second time in five games this season without Butler, or will it be the Magic’s night?

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Heat’s Shooters Must Carry the Load

The biggest story here is Butler’s absence, after he suffered a calf strain in Monday’s loss to the Timberwolves. He was rendered virtually ineffective in that game anyway, scoring just 15 points, but Tyler Herro’s return kept the Heat in that game throughout. He finished with 25 points despite just one of his six 3-pointers falling.

Herro’s return should do wonders for a team which has ranked in the top five of the NBA in shot frequency from the midrange this season. The Heat are knocking down a strong 44.3% of looks from the midrange and also lead the league in shooting accuracy from 3 at 39.5%, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The Heat are loaded with seven shooters who are shooting at least 37% from beyond the arc as Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry lead the team in 3-point attempts and are both shooting an identical 45% from deep. While the Heat have seen a dip in their 3-point shooting away from home, a 37.9% hit rate from deep is still an incredibly strong number.

Miami enters with a 114.0 Defensive Rating this year, which ranks 13th in the NBA, but over the last five contests that number has grown to 118.5. Getting Adebayo, the fulcrum of the Heat’s defense, back on Monday after a seven-game absence due to injury certainly will help the Heat around the rim, where they rank dead last in the NBA as opponents are making more than 70% of shots near the bucket, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Magic Happy to Be Home

The Orlando Magic, on the other hand, have remained strong on defense despite some tough losses of late. They remain in the league’s top five in efficiency on that end, ranking 12th in rim defense and 16th against the 3, but their biggest weakness has been against the midrange jumper, where they’ve ranked 19th and had to defend that shot more frequently than two thirds of the league.

While the Magic have been a bettor’s dream this season at 17-8 against the spread, they’ve been particularly strong at home where they’re a whopping 10-2 ATS and a near-perfect 6-1 as home favorites. They also enter as losers of four games in their last six, but all four of those contests came on the road, and they were underdogs in all four.

A big reason for this is the Magic’s damning shooting splits on the road compared to at home. They’ve knocked down 37.1% of 3s in Orlando and just 31.6% of 3s in road games. Additionally, their defensive efficiency has dropped by a stunning 5.7 points per 100 possessions on the road.

The good news here for Orlando is that, aside from injuries to Markelle Fultz and Joe Ingles — two guys who have missed a bunch of games this season — they are completely healthy entering this game, which is something their opponents can’t claim.

Heat vs. Magic Prediction

The ATS trends here are rather damning, as is the fact that the Heat have won just one of four games they’ve played this season without Butler. Nonetheless, the Heat’s perimeter shooting should keep them in this game.

The heart of this Magic defense lies on the interior, but the Heat can counter this as they have pulled up with great frequency from the midrange and dominated from 3.

The impact of Herro’s return on Monday was noticeable, and the Heat can ride him to a cover here on the road. Keep in mind that, while Miami’s 3-point shooting has dipped on the road, Herro has shot nearly three points better from 3 on the road this season, which is a trend we’ve seen continue after a strong showing in this split last year.

Furthermore, while the Heat have been slightly less effective from 3 away from Miami this season, they’re still lighting it up from deep in these games.

This Heat backcourt should have some success against a Magic team that has struggled to defend the outside shot this season, and that should help them keep this game close and threaten to put a blemish on the Magic’s extraordinary cover rate at home. I’d play the Heat on the spread down to four points.

Pick: Heat +5 (Play to +4)