Warriors vs. Heat Preview: Defense Takes Center Stage With Stephen Curry Absent

Read Action Network contributor Kenny Ducey's betting analysis of the Wednesday night contest between the Warriors and the Heat.

Warriors vs. Heat Odds

Warriors Odds +7
Heat Odds -7
Over/Under 212
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of a mess, and they now head to Miami on the second night of a back-to-back to take on the top team in the East.

With a spread so large and an injury report that’s a bit lengthy, is there any value left on the Heat? Should we turn to the total?

Let’s answer those questions below.

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Everything But Defense Slipping for Golden State

Simply put, things are not going well for the Warriors at the moment. Over the last week, Golden State dropped three straight games and looked absolutely miserable out there. Offensively, it has managed just 101.1 points per 100 possessions — good for dead last in the league during that period.

That’s all due to the foot injury suffered by Stephen Curry early in the Warriors’ loss to Boston exactly one week ago. Without the two-time MVP, Golden State has struggled to create any sort of offense, and on Tuesday the absence of Curry was felt in crunch time against the Magic.

The Warriors took a late lead only to give it right back in the final minute. Otto Porter committed an offensive foul, Klay Thompson missed a three, fouled a three-point shooter and chipped in one more turnover in the final seconds for good measure.

It was a comedy of errors, and one which certainly may have been avoided with the leadership, playmaking and scoring ability of Curry. As it stands right now, we have to rate this offense as  well-below average until it is able to prove otherwise.

The only bright spot here would be that defensively, things haven’t been so bad. The Warriors rank 10th in efficiency during the last week and in general they have shored up that end of the floor with the return of Draymond Green.

Is Miami Cruising Too Soon?

Miami is in a weird spot. There’s really not a ton to play for at this point in the season given it is virtually locked into one of the top four spots in the East, and with Brooklyn lurking in the play-in tournament it’s very possible a team would be better-served to finish third or fourth in the East rather than first or second.

While the Heat certainly won’t be trying to lose — and they have done an excellent job since the All-Star break to go 9-4 — you’ve seen that killer instinct lacking over the last couple of weeks. Miami is just 1-5 against the spread during that time, most notably falling by seven to the Sixers last time out in a game where Joel Embiid and James Harden didn’t even play.

Still, to take a broad view, this has been the best defense in the NBA since the All-Star break and a team which employs a strong presence in the post with Bam Adebayo. As it pertains to the perimeter defense, though, there could be some issues. Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo are all listed as questionable for this game, which leaves open the possibility that the Heat could be severely undermanned.

I’ll also note that for as well as the Heat have played this year, they’re just 18-17 against the spread at home.

Warriors-Heat Pick

This seems like rock bottom for the Warriors, and while I want to buy into things turning around I don’t really think this is the spot for them.

Miami is 12-8 ATS with the rest advantage this year and the Warriors stand at just 6-5 ATS on the second night of a back-to-back. Of course, most of those games included Curry, who will miss this contest.

A strong defense against an offense looking for answers makes for a precarious spot for this Golden State offense, leading me to the total here.

While the Warriors have struggled mightily to score, they’ve done the job defensively. On top of that, Miami is just 16th in offensive efficiency since the break and could run into trouble if it’s missing some big names.

I’d lean towards the Heat covering the spread here, but given what we’ve seen at home from them (and what we’ve seen as of late) the total should be the safer play.

Pick: Under 212 (-110)