Nets vs. Heat Preview: How to Back Miami Against Struggling Brooklyn

Roberto Arguello breaks down Saturday's Nets-Heat matchup in Miami and shares his best bet between these two Eastern Conference contenders.

Nets vs. Heat Odds

Nets Odds +11
Heat Odds -11
Over/Under 220.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Heat host the Nets on Saturday night in a matchup between two teams heading in opposite directions recently.

The Heat have won four straight games and sit in first place in the Eastern Conference after pulling away to beat the Pelicans 112-97 on Thursday night. The Nets, on the other hand, have floundered without Kevin Durant available and have lost nine consecutive games.

The Nets made a big splash by trading an unhappy James Harden to the 76ers and got Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond back in return. Simmons is not with the team, but there is a chance that Curry and Drummond make their Nets debuts on Saturday in Miami.

Can the shorthanded Nets cover as double-digit underdogs against the Heat?

Struggling Nets Work to End Skid

It’s no secret that the Nets have had significant struggles over the last three weeks on this nine-game losing streak. Per Cleaning The Glass, the Nets rank 20th in Offensive Rating (110.4) and an abysmal 29th in Defensive Rating (124.7) over that span.

While Durant and Simmons will remain out, the Nets will have Kyrie Irving available as they are playing on the road, but they have still lost seven straight games in which Irving has played (they are 4-9 on the season when he plays).

If the Nets cover or somehow miraculously pull the upset, it will be because their defense gets it together and has its best performance in weeks while the offense gets hot from beyond the arc against a Heat defense designed to force opponents to make jumpshots. The Nets also need Irving to have a big night as him being effective as a driver and facilitator is their only hope of putting any pressure on the rim.

Curry (trade pending) and Drummond (trade pending) are both questionable. Ben Simmons (not with team – trade), Nic Claxton (hamstring) and LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) are all out while Kevin Durant (knee) and Joe Harris (ankle) remain out indefinitely.

Adebayo-Powered Heat Are Thriving

As the conductor of the Bam Adebayo hype train, let me be the first to tell you that he is averaging 24.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this month (five games) and is coming off of an impressive 29-point, 10-rebound game against the Pelicans in which he looked assertive and dominant.

Many Adebayo fans have been waiting for him to be more aggressive because his size, skill and quickness combination has yet to reach its offensive ceiling (the ceiling, by the way, does not exist). Thursday’s performance in New Orleans was reassuring leading up to this game against a Nets team that lacks capable frontcourt defenders.

Last season, Adebayo set a career high with 41 points against this Nets team in January, and 13 months later, the Nets defensively still have no answers for him. Jimmy Butler has feasted on hunting mismatches this season, and he should thrive in these (John Crotty voice) “mismatch situations,” but if Adebayo is aggressive in exploiting these advantages too, the Heat should win and cover easily against a Nets team that will switch frequently and lacks capable defenders at multiple positions.

The Heat have several injuries as Tyler Herro (knee), P.J. Tucker (knee) and Caleb Martin (Achilles) are questionable to play while Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) and Markieff Morris (neck) remain out indefinitely.

Unless Curry is available for the Nets, I’d be surprised if the Heat rushed any of their three players listed as questionable back for this game considering their excellent depth (the same depth that made Heat general manager Andy Elisburg content to not make any trades to bring in new rotation players at the trade deadline).

Nets-Heat Pick

The Nets defense is a trainwreck right now, and even if all three Heat players listed as questionable sit this game out, the Heat should have no trouble picking the Nets’ poor defense apart and getting easy baskets early and often.

Kyle Lowry will spoon feed Adebayo quality scoring chances, especially off of Nets misses in transition, while Butler continues to manufacture points in the paint and at the free throw line. The Heat’s elite defense will prove too much for Irving to handle by himself as the Heat should win easily.

While I expect the Heat to win by double digits and cover the 10.5-point spread, I will instead be playing the first half line of Heat -6.5 on FanDuel as the Heat are less likely to give up a backdoor cover on this number. If the first half line gets above -7, play the full game spread instead down to -11.5.

Pick: Heat 1H -6.5