Suns vs. Heat Betting Preview: Bet the Over/Under With Star Injuries Looming

Action Network analyst Austin Wang previews Monday night's matchup between the Suns and Heat and gives his betting prediction.

Suns vs. Heat Odds

Suns Odds +1.5
Heat Odds -1.5
Over/Under 216
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

On Monday evening, the Miami Heat host the Phoenix Suns in the “Arena Formerly Known As FTX.” I anticipate this will be a fun cross-conference matchup between two powerhouses, but two big names loom on the injury report. Chris Paul and Tyler Herro are both listed as questionable dealing with foot injuries.

I expect we will not get clarity on their statuses until Monday evening, so let’s break down the game and see if we can extract some betting value with this in mind.

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Defense Slipping for Shorthanded Suns 

Paul is in danger of missing his third consecutive game. It appears that the Suns are not willing to risk any further injury to their star point guard at such an early stage of the regular season.

The Suns’ Offensive Rating decreases by 7.8 points per 100 possessions when he is off the court, per Basketball Reference. It is no surprise that one of the best point guards of all time gives any offense a boost, but it doesn’t necessarily mean more points as the overall Pace is slower and the Defensive Rating improves when he is playing. Without Paul in the lineup, the Suns are 13-8 to the over since the 2020-21 season.

Cameron Payne will be the starting point guard if Paul is out again, and he will split ball-handling duties with Devin Booker. Both of them push the pace a little more.

The Suns will be without Cameron Johnson for 1-2 months as he recovers from knee surgery. They’ve missed their sweet-shooting wing man, as he was hitting 2.8 3-pointers per game on 43.1% shooting from behind the arc. Unfortunately, with Jae Crowder gone, Johnson out and Paul potentially sitting out for another game, their rotation is mighty thin.

Their defense has suffered as a result — they gave up 114 points to Orlando Magic and 117 points to the Minnesota Timberwolves. I think they could have trouble with the Heat as well.

Is the Market Wrong About the Heat?

The Heat have gotten off to a slow start this season with a 6-7 record and an awful 3-9-1 ATS. Only the Lakers have performed worse against the spread.

Their defense has taken a step back this season — now ranked 15th compared to fourth last season, per NBA Advanced Stats. Losing P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris during the offseason took away a lot of grit and toughness from this Heat team. They re-signed Victor Oladipo this past summer, but he has yet to play a game this season.

To replace Tucker, they moved Herro to the starting lineup. Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin have all been getting additional playing time this season. With Herro out, Strus has taken this opportunity to step up and shine. He scored 31 points in Miami’s last game against the Charlotte Hornets.

All three of the Miami’s games this season without Herro have gone over the total. Here is an interesting stat: since the 2019-20 season, the Heat are 20-7-1 to the over at home when Herro sits, per the SDQL at Gimme the Dog. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but perhaps the market over-adjusts for his absence.

Due to their high defensive intensity, grind-it-out style of play, the totals on Heat games are usually set very low. They’ve had a strong over/under record in the past couple of years. For games when the total is 218 or lower, those are 60-35-7 to the over (63.2%), per the SDQL.

Suns-Heat Pick

I think with both defenses taking a step back as of late, the over is worth a look here.  Paul appears likely to sit, and if so, I think the Suns defense will suffer and they will play faster.

I would love it more if Herro suits up, but they’ve shown they don’t miss a beat in scoring with Strus getting more touches as a result. I make this total 219, so I think there’s some value here up to 217.

If Herro is out, I would highly consider taking a look at Strus’s 3-point props. He has averaged 8.8 3-point attempts in his six starts. He could be in for another big night from behind the arc.

Pick: Over 216