Heat vs. Suns Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Miami Heat face the Phoenix Suns at the Footprint Center on Saturday night in a potential NBA Finals preview between the last two teams to lose in The Finals.
The Heat are playing their fifth game of a six-game road trip while the Suns are playing their second straight home game before hitting the road for five straight games.
The Heat are 2-2 so far on the road trip after beating the Trail Blazers in their most recent game on Wednesday 115-109. The Heat held on to win as players like Max Strus and P.J. Tucker stepped up while playing without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo due to injury. Kyle Lowry was also ejected late in the second quarter.
After starting the season 1-3, the Suns have gone 29-5 in their last 34 games as they have the best record in the NBA and are 8.5-point favorites against the Heat on Saturday. With each of their last eight wins coming by at least 12 points, is there value in betting on them to cover against a pesky shorthanded Heat team?
Heat’s Depth Stepping Up Without Butler
The good news for Miami is that the Heat have a chance to get Jimmy Butler (questionable) back after spraining his ankle on Monday against the Warriors.
The Heat remain without a handful of key players due to injury as Adebayo (thumb), Dewayne Dedmon (knee), Markieff Morris (whiplash), Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) and KZ Okpala (wrist) all have been ruled out. The Heat will also be without Gabe Nnamdi Vincent, Udonis Haslem and Marcus Garrett due to health and safety protocols.
However, the Heat have thrived under adversity this season as players like Vincent, Strus, Caleb Martin, and Omer Yurtseven have seemingly come out of nowhere to become impactful performers. At least two of Miami’s big three (Butler, Adebayo and Lowry) have missed 17 games this season, but the Heat have a shockingly impressive 12-5 record in those games!
Vincent has provided quality shotmaking and on-ball defense and played a huge role in the Heat surviving when Lowry is off the court. Strus has gotten loose (despite Butler ragging on him) as a deadly marksman who also has a dynamic scoring ability inside the arc thanks to his high IQ and broad shoulders. Martin is an elite athlete who has emerged as a quality wing defender who offensively puts pressure on the rim and has made enough shots to be effective.
Yurtseven’s 23.8% Rebound Percentage would rank third in the NBA if he had enough playing time to qualify, and his 10 consecutive games with 12 or more rebounds is a Heat record (via Heat.com writer Couper Moorhead). He also has shown some impressive touch around the basket and made his first NBA 3 in Wednesday’s win.
If the Heat win and cover against the Suns, it will be because Lowry plays well at the point of attack against Chris Paul while at least two of Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Strus score the ball efficiently and often.
If Butler plays, the Heat’s shooters will have more margin for error, but the Heat will still need to make shots against a Suns offense that ranks among the top seven in the league in shooting percentage at the rim, in the midrange and from beyond the arc (per Cleaning The Glass).
Phoenix Has Clear Offensive Plan of Attack
If the Suns win and cover the spread, it will be because they take advantage of the Heat’s lack of depth inside. The Heat defense is designed to limit shots inside and force opponents to take perimeter attempts, and despite playing without their top two bigs recently, they have done a quality job of executing this strategy.
However, Paul is by far the best passing point guard they have seen recently, and this will be a unique challenge to try and stop him from manipulating the defense and setting up bigs with easy looks at the rim. The Suns recently signed Bismack Biyombo off the street at the beginning of the new year, and he put up double-digit points in each of his first two games thanks to Paul spoon feeding him easy looks.
The big news for the Suns on Saturday is that they get back their starting frontcourt (Ayton and former bubble Heat legend Jae Crowder) while also returning backup center JaVale McGee from health and safety protocols. The Heat remain without their top two bigs (Adebayo and Dedmon), so putting Ayton and McGee in favorable spots where they can match up in space against Yurtseven and Chris Silva or utilize their superior athleticism when rolling to the rim will be key.
The Suns absolutely have the shooters and ball movement in their offense to consistently get good looks from the 3-point line, but if they can get quality looks inside too, they will completely collapse the Heat’s defense and cover. Devin Booker and Paul also thrive in the midrange, and the Heat allow the fifth-most frequent midrange attempts in the league.
The Heat have quality defenders like Lowry, Martin, Tucker and Butler who can match up as well as anyone can against the likes of Paul, Booker and Mikal Bridges individually. Consequently, utilizing Ayton inside and passing efficiently will be key to covering against a stingy Heat defense that has a plethora of smart and versatile defenders and forces the third-highest Turnover Rate (15.9% per Cleaning The Glass) in the NBA.
The Heat are dangerous, even without Butler, but this is a tough matchup for Miami. The Heat haven’t played someone like Chris Paul recently who can score and distribute at an elite level, and in their only other recent matchup against an elite passing team, the Heat lost by seven on Monday at the Warriors – as Stephen Curry had an uncharacteristically off night as he went 3-17 from the field.
The Suns run one of the most sophisticated pick-and-roll offenses in the league, and their elite ball handling, shooting, and interior play will all present challenges to the Heat defense, whether Butler plays or not.
If Butler plays and the Suns are favored by six points or fewer, take the Suns to cover the spread at home. However, if Butler is out, take the Over 216.5 at DraftKings (with value up to 219) as the Heat will take more 3s and will have even more trouble containing the Suns on the defensive end. Per BetLabs, overs have hit in five straight Heat games, and I expect that to continue with Yurtseven manning the interior on Saturday against Ayton.
Pick: Suns -6 or better | Over 216.5 (up to 219) if Butler is out