Warriors vs. Heat NBA Odds & Picks: Miami’s Pace Makes For Interesting Parlay Against Golden State (April 1)
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat.
- It's a matchup of the last two NBA Finals runners-up when the Warriors and Heat square off.
- Both teams feature two prominent stars that do a majority of the work, but the supporting cast can lack some nights.
- Brandon Anderson explains why he thinks the Heat's pace of play win win out.
Warriors vs. Heat Odds
|Moneyline||+110 / -130|
|Time||Thursday, 8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via FanDuel|
The two most recent NBA Finals runners up meet Thursday night in a battle of teams that look nothing like conference championship winners right now.
The Warriors and Heat weirdly mirror each other in some ways. Both teams have been fighting and clawing all season just to keep their record around .500. Both are led by one superstar, dark-horse MVP candidate and one do-everything big man defender, and both have gotten precious little help outside of those two stars.
Perhaps most importantly, for both of these teams, that NBA Finals defeat feels forever ago, and every win now is key just to get into the playoffs. So who will get the win in this toss-up matchup?
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors currently sit at 23-24, one game below .500 and on the bottom fringe of the West play-in race as things stand right now.
Golden State is stuck in no man’s land. The Warriors sniffed around at the trade deadline, looking for ways to improve this roster and push for the playoffs, but everyone in the Warriors organization knows there’s a ceiling on this year’s team.
The real goal is getting the best team ready for next year once Klay Thompson returns. That leaves the Warriors stuck in the middle, half trying to develop youngsters like James Wiseman and half trying to eke out wins and get to this year’s playoffs.
It’s been an impossibly difficult tightrope for the Warriors to walk, and in the end, this team just doesn’t have any reliably good players outside of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Curry has been fantastic when he’s out there, but he’s still clearly playing through pain with that tailbone injury, and the Warriors’ offense absolutely craters when Curry leaves the floor.
Green has done a masterful job at the heart of this defense but is mostly a non-factor on offense at this point, outside of his clear synergy with Curry.
As great as Curry has been, the Warriors rank in the bottom 10 in Offensive Efficiency at Basketball Reference, so that tells you just how little the rest of this team is offering. The only player other than Curry with a positive Offensive Box Plus-Minus rating on the entire roster is Jordan Poole, who has come on the last few weeks. After that, the next closest thing to a positive is probably Andrew Wiggins, who could be charitably described as possibly neutral?
Instead, the Warriors have won with heroics from Curry on offense and mostly with stout defense, ranking top-10 in the NBA on that end thanks mostly to a defensive 2-point percentage that ranks near the top of the league.
The team still plays small on the glass and has all the attributes of a young, inexperienced roster. The Warriors foul a ton and turn the ball over constantly. They’re creating too many of their own problems and not solving enough.
Curry and Green are still awesome, but the rest of this roster is a shell of its former self. If Curry doesn’t have a big offensive game, the Warriors typically lose. It really is that simple.
The Heat won Wednesday night to get back to .500 at 24-24. In the Eastern Conference, that keeps Miami near the top of the play-in race but very much in that range nonetheless.
Miami has gone streaking lately. The Heat have won two in a row now after losing six straight, and they had won 11 of 12 before that. During that winning stretch, the team looked the best it had all season, finally like the team that made such a memorable playoff run. And then, just as soon as everyone started believing again, the Heat lost six straight and blew up the roster.
The new players haven’t helped the team much yet. Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica have been mostly bad in limited minutes thus far. Victor Oladipo hasn’t made his Miami debut yet, and LaMarcus Aldridge never showed up, eschewing the Heat for Brooklyn. The role players haven’t been anywhere near good enough either. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Goran Dragic have all fallen hard since their terrific form in last year’s playoffs.
Like Golden State, Miami is only as good as it is right now because its two superstars are keeping it afloat. Jimmy Butler has been terrific since getting healthy and is quietly on the fringe of the MVP conversation with near triple-double production most nights. His defense has been much more consistent this season, and he’s doing as much on offense as he has at any point of his career. Bam Adebayo has taken another step forward too, on both ends.
Like the Warriors, the Heat are winning the games they do win because of superb defense and just enough offense. The Heat take plenty of threes but rank third to last in the NBA in 3-point percentage. They’re much more efficient inside the arc, which makes for an interesting test against such a good 2-point defense.
On defense, Miami allows the fewest 2-point attempts and most 3-point attempts in the entire NBA, and the Heat do that by design. They’re hustling hard and contesting every shot, counting on you to miss enough shots, and they’re usually right.
Unlike the young Warriors team, the savvy Heat do not often make the little mistakes. Miami doesn’t foul much or turn it over a ton, and the Heat draw a ton of free throws and constantly wreak havoc on defense, forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets when they do.
Miami is doing what it does, playing sticky defense and grinding out wins with just enough offense. Both teams have the same formula right now.
The pace of play will be very telling here. The Warriors are one of the fastest teams in the NBA, especially with Curry playing, while the Heat are one of the slowest. Miami may want to play especially slow on the second night of a back to back here, and it feels like the Heat will be able to impose their physical, turgid style on this game and slow things down.
It feels like this one could be ugly. Both teams are grinding, and both are far more effective on offense than defense. Both teams have gone under more than over in games this season — the under is 27-19-1 in Warriors games and 27-21 in Heat games, according to Bet Labs.
Pace of play will have a lot to say about the total in this game. Warriors games average over 226 points per game this season while Heat games are closer to 214. This line is right in the middle, so the question is which team’s style of play wins out?
I think our answer to that determines the side to play too. Miami is the more savvy, veteran team and should be able to slow this down some, perhaps whether the Heat want to or not. The turnover and free-throw battles also both look like they should lean heavily in Miami’s direction.
If the young Warriors foul and turn it over all game like usual, they’ll fall right into the game the Heat want to play. Those free throws will slow things down further, and the turnovers will give Miami some of the only easy points to be found in this game.
I like the Heat to win here and also like the under, and in this case, I think it makes sense to play both together because of how intertwined the results are. I’ll look to parlay the two results to give me better odds. I prefer to parlay a Miami parlay with the game under at slightly worse odds so we don’t have to mess with a close win, but give a couple points if necessary.
A Heat -130 moneyline and under 219.5 parlay plays at +238 at FanDuel. I’ll play the pair together and look for Miami to slow this down, play its veteran edges, and grind out an ugly, defensive win.
Pick: Heat ML + under 219.5 parlay