The 6-17 Atlanta Hawks and 17-6 Miami Heat have perfectly opposite records this season, and they are also at opposite ends of the Southeast Division standings.
Will their season trends continue when they meet today in Miami? (8pm ET Tuesday). The Heat have won the two season meetings between the teams so far, but it is worth noting that Trae Young, easily the Hawks’ best player, hardly played in those two games due to injury. He is back healthy now and has scored 30 or more points in six of his last nine games.
USAbetting now analyzes this matchup before breaking down the best betting options with our concluding Atlanta Hawks vs Miami Heat predictions.
Can Kendrick Nunn Contribute More as a Playmaker?
Heading into this game, Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic are out for the Heat. Bam Adebayo is also questionable with a groin contusion. If Adebayo is out, that’s three players who are responsible for approximately 40 percent of the Heat assists this season sitting on the bench.
This season, Nunn has been the Heat’s point guard in name only, as the undrafted rookie is much more of a scorer (15.3 points per game) than a facilitator (3.4 assists and 2.1 turnovers per game). Star wing Jimmy Butler usually creates more of the offense for teammates in that starting lineup.
Nunn’s scoring has regressed in the past handful of games but his focus in this game should be getting his passing on track. He will likely have Trae Young guarding him in this game. Young is a poor defender, which means the Hawks will have to send some help if Nunn gets past Young with the ball. This puts the onus on Nunn to make the correct decision either to call his own number or find an open teammate.
Will the Hawks’ Young Big Men Keep Playing Inspired Basketball?
The Hawks have to be pleased with what they have gotten out of young big men Damian Jones and Bruno Fernando this season. Neither guy received high expectations before the season or even plays that much, especially Fernando, but they have been solid options for a Hawks team that has been disappointing overall.
With Alex Len dealing with the flu, both guys will have a chance to play more minutes in bigger roles. Rebounding and contesting shots inside without fouling will be the big challenge for them. They will also need to finish confidently inside against a very solid Heat defense. The two players are shooting a combined 63.7 percent from the field this year, but many of those shots have come in lower-pressure situations playing against reserve units.
Whether or not Heat starting center Bam Adebayo plays with his groin injury, the Hawks’ big men cannot afford to shrink from this moment.
Can Atlanta Keep Jimmy Butler Off the Free-Throw Line?
The Hawks are not good on defense, but they are especially bad on the perimeter. Opposing guards and wings routinely catch Atlanta’s defenders off guard with crafty and physical play, often getting to the free-throw line many times. Just last week, James Harden of the Houston Rockets scored 60 points (including 20 made free throws) in just three quarters of action.
The Hawks rank third-worst in the NBA in opponent free-throw rate, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The majority of their wing rotation is very young, with De’Andre Hunter, DeAndre’ Bembry, Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter all playing at least 22 minutes per game.
Butler is one of the most tricky players in the NBA to guard with his size, strength and athleticism at the small forward position. If the Hawks’ defenders play smart, they have a shot to keep Butler under his season average of 9.4 free throws attempted per game. If they show their youth in this matchup, though, Butler could live at the charity stripe in this game.
Our Preview’s Atlanta Hawks vs Miami Heat Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
The Hawks have lost 11 of their last 13 games, with their only wins against the Golden State Warriors and the Charlotte Hornets. When faced with matchups against teams of the Heat’s quality, they have struggled a lot.
I don’t expect that to change, especially with the Heat’s more experienced roster compared to the Hawks. Also, there were reports of a locker-room altercation between Trae Young and a teammate in the past few days, so we could see the effects of that on the court somehow in this game.
However, I do expect the Heat to get out to a lead and then relax the defense a bit in the second half, allowing the Hawks to put up a good amount of points. These are the Atlanta Hawks vs Miami Heat predictions for this USAbetting NBA game preview:
- The Heat are favored by nine points at the top online betting sites that take U.S. clients. The right move is putting your money on Miami -9pts on the spread @ best odds of -110 with Bovada, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
- Because I think this game could get out of hand early and because of how bad the Hawks are defensively, this should be a higher-scoring game. Bet on the over 218 total points @ -110 with BetOnline. The other sports betting sites are over 218.5pts.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.