Heat vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: Bet On Defenses Thursday Night
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler and head coach Erik Spoelstra.
- It has been tough to get a handle on the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets this season.
- Both teams have played in the Conference Finals in the last three seasons, but neither looks anything like those championship-caliber teams so far this season.
- Brandon Anderson breaks down Thursday's game and explains why he's targeting the total below.
Heat vs. Rockets Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via BetMGM.
The Miami Heat and Houston Rockets are two of the more fascinating teams so far this season. Both have played in the conference finals in the past three seasons, and the Heat just reached the Finals in the Orlando bubble.
However, life has not been great for either franchise so far this season.
Miami sits at 10-14 with Houston at 11-13, so both are floundering below .500 right now and just fighting to stay in the playoff mix. Needless to say, neither team has played to its potential.
The Heat have been ravaged by injuries and absences related to COVID-19 protocols, while the Rockets are a new team entirely after trading away James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
However, both have shown some signs of life in recent weeks, but what do we make of two teams in transition as we try to figure this one out?
You can throw most of the season-long Heat metrics out the window. Miami just hasn’t been healthy enough at any point for most of them to tell us much.
On the season, the Heat rank near the bottom quarter of the league in Net Rating, SRS and Offensive Efficiency, but they’ve been doing that with just about anybody that can put on a pink and blue “Miami Vice” jersey.
The Heat are finally getting healthier, at least to an extent. Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard are still out, and Goran Dragic missed Tuesday and looks like a question mark in this one. The positive side is the fact Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo back out there together, and it’s starting to show.
And it’s showing up especially on defense. Miami is back near the top 10 in defense, even as shorthanded as it has been all year. Butler has been terrific defensively since his return, and his presence has helped Adebayo looked much more like the guy we saw dominate in the playoffs as well.
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The Heat are practically eliminating teams inside the arc, forcing them to beat them from three-point range, which should be an interesting look against a Rockets team that still prefers to shoot from out there.
The Heat offense is still a grind. It ranks dead last in the NBA in turnover percentage, so Dragic is a big miss there if out and the offense just doesn’t have a ton of rhythm right now.
The Heat score efficiently inside the arc, but don’t shoot there often, instead jacking a ton of threes and, usually, missing a lot of them. Butler’s return helps them pick up easy points at the line, but scoring is a grinder for this team.
With Butler out, the Heat were just 3-9. They’re 7-5 with him back in the lineup. It’s still nothing like the team that made it to the Finals in the bubble, but it does look like the Heat are starting to find their way.
The Rockets, on the other hand, appear to be headed in the other direction. Houston had a wonderful honeymoon after finally moving on from the Harden era. The Rockets even won six games in a row.
However, they’ve lost four of their last five games since, with three blowout losses by 17 or more points to the Thunder, Hornets and Pelicans. Yikes.
It’s fair to say this isn’t a full-strength Rockets team. Christian Wood will be out another few weeks, and Victor Oladipo and John Wall are both in and out of the lineup with injuries and rest. Houston can’t decide whether it’s coming or going right now or what exactly this team looks like.
The Rockets are still taking a ton of threes, but aren’t making them as often anymore, plus their free-throw rate has plummeted since Harden left.
These are not the Harden or Mike D’Antoni Rockets anymore. Houston is really struggling to score efficiently. It’s great to see Wall, Oladipo and DeMarcus Cousins out there, but they haven’t been anything like their old All-Star selves. Cousins and Oladipo are both under 48 percent True Shooting on the season.
Instead, these Rockets are hanging in there with defense. Houston has the best Defensive Rating in the league since the Harden trade, and even with Wood out, Cousins has picked up the slack in the paint.
Houston is still getting crushed on the boards, but Miami hasn’t been rebounding well either, so that may be a wash in this one.
Unlike Miami, Houston is running teams off the arc and pushing them inside. The Rockets do foul a lot, so that could be one easy way for the Heat to find some offense, but this will be an interesting matchup against an opponent that has mostly been shooting deep this season and a defense that isn’t letting that happen.
Don’t be surprised to see some late news affect things in this game. Dragic is a question, and Wall and Oladipo are always threats to sit out a game.
If any of those names miss, it only strengthens the way I feel about this game, and that’s this: it’s going to be a serious struggle for both teams to find points.
Houston is playing good defense. Miami’s defense is tightening up. The Heat also play a slow pace, which should further clog up the scoring.
I like the way Miami is playing better and would lean toward it winning the game, but mostly I’m expecting an ugly game straight out of the 1990s, so I’ll grab the under here and just play both defenses to muck things up.
Pick: Total Under 219.5