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Nets vs. Heat NBA Odds & Picks: Back Durant & Irving Against Miami (Sunday, April 18)

Nets vs. Heat NBA Odds & Picks: Back Durant & Irving Against Miami (Sunday, April 18) article feature image

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Durant (left) and Kyrie Irving.

  • Without James Harden, the Nets head south to take on the Miami Heat.
  • These teams are not similar, really at all, with Brooklyn pushing the pace and having little interest in playing good defense.
  • Brandon Anderson explains how that translates to betting value on Sunday afternoon.

Nets vs. Heat Odds

Nets Odds-5.5
Heat Odds+5.5
Moneyline-250 / +190
Time3:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday morning via PointsBet.

The Sunday afternoon games are back now that March Madness and the Masters have wrapped up, and we've got a fun one here between the Brookyln Nets and Miami Heat.

Miami won the Eastern Conference in the bubble last fall, and Brooklyn is the favorite to do so this summer. This could very easily be a second-round playoff matchup and although James Harden is still out, there's plenty of other star power in play for this one with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

Can the Heat hang with the Nets? Let's break it down.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are 38-18 on the season and 14-5 since the All-Star Break. Brooklyn has rarely had all three superstars healthy this year, but it's rolling through the East anyway.

Brooklyn has the No. 1 Adjusted Offensive Rating in the NBA, per Basketball Reference. They rank bottom five on defense, and … it apparently doesn't matter.

In other words, the Brooklyn Nets are who we thought they were. They're third in the league in 3-point percentage and first in 2-point percentage at a ridiculous 56.8%, and it turns out you are a pretty good offense if you make more of your shots than any other team.

Most of the season-long metrics aren't particularly reliable for the Nets because they have so many constantly shifting parts and are mostly around average in defensive shot profile, rebounding, foul rate, and many other metrics. One exception is forcing turnovers, in which Brooklyn ranks third last in the NBA. That's an area the Nets could've easily picked up some extra possessions here against a turnover-prone Heat squad.

Durant is back and has been ramping up his play. He played 19 minutes in his return, then 24, 27 and 30. It would be reasonable to expect close to a full load here for Durant, who has been terrific and barely skipped a beat since returning from injury.

Durant is averaging 23.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game over these four outings, and he's doing that in only 25.1 minutes per game. Extrapolate those numbers over something like 32 minutes instead and we're looking at around 30 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. This might be a great spot to look for a Durant over, particularly on assists, with his production down a tick but the minutes ramping up.

It's still tough to know exactly what to make of these Nets without Harden. With just Durant and Irving but no Harden, Brooklyn is only 5-5 straight up (SU) and 4-6 against the spread (ATS), and about the only consistent part of those games has been a whole heck of a lot of points. The over has hit in five straight such games by over 90 cumulative points, and these games are averaging almost a 241-point total on the season.

It's true in general for the Nets this season but even more so with Harden out: Brooklyn is simply going to try to outscore you, defense be damned.

Miami Heat

The Heat sit at 28-28 on the season, still scrapping to stay on the right side of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

In many ways, Miami is the opposite of Brooklyn. The Heat prefer to slow the pace down with the second lowest pace in the NBA, according to NBA Advanced Stats. Also, Miami is all about defense and just enough scoring to get by. Miami ranks 24th in Offensive Rating and seven in Defensive Rating, according to Basketball Reference.

The Heat are finally mostly healthy, at least as much so as they're probably going to be this season. Victor Oladipo and Andre Iguodala are out, though, removing two great options to defend Durant. But the truth is that Oladipo and Iguodala haven't been very good this season, and neither have any of the other Heat players outside of the two stars. Duncan Robinson has fallen off. Tyler Herro has taken a step back. Goran Dragic looks old.

The Heat have never found their bubble form this season.

Well, maybe not never. Miami did go 10-1 in a stretch just before and after the All-Star break. The problem is that the Heat have gone 16-27 outside of those 11 games. Miami has lost three straight coming into this one, and the Heat have lost 10 of their last 16. Even with Butler and Adebayo playing, the Heat are only 20-17 SU on the season and 16-21 ATS.

The style of play questions will be telling here. Miami is very imbalanced on both offense and defense. On offense, the Heat take the second fewest 2s in the NBA but are very efficient on them. With Brooklyn's defense vulnerable and in a faster game, could Miami find some easy buckets inside the arc?

On defense, Miami reflects its offense. The Heat allow the fewest 2-point shots in the NBA but let the opponent hoist a metric ton of 3-balls. Miami allows almost 40 3-point attempts per game, second most in the league, and relies on its defense to turn over the opponent and contest those 3-pointers.

It works against many teams. But do you really want to dare a team with Durant, Irving and Joe Harris to beat you from behind the arc?

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Nets-Heat Pick

Both of these teams are good, but maybe not as good as we give them credit for. The Harden-less Nets and the 2021 Heat have both disappointed. Each them has played .500 ball and failed to cover the spread more than half the time.

Our distrust of the Harden-less Nets could make a Heat cover or moneyline play tempting, but I don't trust Miami either.

The one thing I trust in this game is the one thing I've seen all season: I trust Brooklyn to score.

The Nets' offense has been insanely efficient, with or without Harden, and I'm not sure Miami can slow them down. The Heat are built to let the opponent fire away from deep, and unless Durant, Irving and Harris all go uncharacteristically cold, the Nets should find ways to score.

The pace differential is huge here, and these games tend to swing faster and higher scoring when Brooklyn is involved just because there's so little defense. With a line set at 225, the books have mostly compromised, settling right in between Miami's and Brooklyn's expected outcomes, but that's usually not how this sort of thing works, averaging out in the middle.

The Nets average 123.1 points per game in 10 games with Durant and Irving but no Harden, with at least 122 points in all but three of them. I trust the Nets to score, and that's about all I trust from this game.

I'll take the Brooklyn team over and let these unpredictable teams sort the rest out on their own.

Pick: Nets over 115.5 (-121)

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