Wizards vs. Heat Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back Jimmy Butler and Miami’s Depth

Wizards vs. Heat Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back Jimmy Butler and Miami’s Depth article feature image

Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler

  • The Heat have grown to a 6.5-point favorite over the Wizards at some sportsbooks, up half a points from earlier in the day on Tuesday. Miami remains -6 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
  • The total has also been moving throughout the day, dropping from 211.5 to 208.5.
  • Roberto Arguello is targeting the favorite in this one, and explains his reasoning below.

Wizards vs. Heat Odds

Wizards Odds+6
Heat Odds-6
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM, last updated Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Southeast Division foes clash in Miami on Tuesday night when the Wizards face the Heat at FTX Arena. These teams faced each other in a home-and-home on Nov. 18 and 20 when the Heat won in Miami 112-97, but the Wizards answered back with a 103-100 comeback win in Washington D.C.

This game will be a completely different battle than the first two due to injuries on the Heat and a number of absences (mostly for the Wizards) due to COVID-19. With both teams playing different lineups, where is the edge in this matchup? Let’s break it down below.

Wizards Need to Find Their Defense Again

The Wizards will hope to get their best player back as Bradley Beal (COVID-19 protocols) is questionable. Rui Hachimura (post COVID-19 conditioning) is also questionable while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Holiday, Thomas Bryant, Raul Neto and Anthony Gill are all out Tuesday night as they remain in COVID-19 protocols.

The Wizards started the first 20 games of the season strong at 13-7 behind a new and improved defense. However, they have lost nine of their last 13 games as their defense has ranked 28th in the league with a 118.7 Defensive Rating over the last month.

Offensive inefficiency has remained an issue for them throughout the season as they have really struggled to shoot from beyond the arc. Washington’s three highest-paid players, Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, are each shooting Effective Field Goal percentages below 50% and below the 32nd percentile for each of their positions, respectively (per Cleaning The Glass).

Each of these three is also shooting below average from beyond the arc among his position group, and only one Wizard (Caldwell-Pope) is shooting above 35% on 3s this season as they rank third-worst in the league with a collective 32.7 3pt%.

If the Wizards hope to upset the Heat, with or without Beal, they will need to improve from beyond the arc and knock down 3s against a Heat defense that makes opponents shoot the second-most 3s in the NBA (43.5% of opponent shots).

The Wizards will also need to take advantage of the Heat’s limited frontcourt as Omer Yurtseven doesn’t have the best mobility. If Beal plays, he will be the biggest beneficiary of Yurtseven likely starting and forcing the Heat to play in a drop because of his fondness for midrange jumpers — which make up 47% of his shots (ranking in the 98th percentile among wings, per Cleaning The Glass).

The Heat will also play Udonis Haslem as the only other big available coming off the bench, and the Wizards will need players like Montrezl Harrell and Daniel Gafford to take advantage of his lack of size and waning athleticism on the boards and at the rim.

Heat Depth Has Stepped Up

If the Heat win and cover as six-point home favorites, it will be because Jimmy Butler plays well and they continue to knock down 3s as they did when they went 6-2 over his most recent absence.

P.J. Tucker (leg) is questionable to play Tuesday while Markieff Morris (neck), Kyle Lowry (COVID-19 protocols), Dewayne Dedmon (knee), Bam Adebayo (thumb) and Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) remain out. Heat TV analyst John Crotty is also out due to a health and safety situation.

Over the last month, the Heat have more than weathered the storm despite absences to their two best players, Butler and Adebayo, because of their impressive shotmaking and reliable defense. The Heat have shot at the fourth-highest percentage on 3s (39.3%, per Cleaning The Glass) while also shooting at the seventh-highest eFG% (54.8%).

Lowry leading the offense and putting players in spots where they can succeed has certainly been a big part of that, but the emergence of players like Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Gabe Nnamdi Vincent, and Yurtseven continues to impress. With Lowry now out, their ability to continue making shots alongside Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Butler remains important.

Butler being back is a huge help for the Heat as they finally have someone to put more pressure on the rim and get them easy points at the charity stripe as Butler ranks third in the NBA in free throws drawn per game (8.32 – behind only Antetokounmpo’s 10.18 and Embiid’s 10.3).

Butler was rusty shooting the ball in his return to action following a tailbone injury on Sunday when he scored just 17 points on five of 14 from the field, but he still finished with a game-best +16 in 35 minutes.

Wizards-Heat Pick

While it is unclear if Beal will play or not, take the Heat either way. The Wizards have struggled offensively the whole year as they have struggled to get others involved alongside Beal consistently. Beal has also had a down year shooting the ball while the Wizards’ shooters have struggled overall, and their only 35+% 3-point shooter, Caldwell-Pope, is out.

The Wizards defense has fallen off a cliff over the last month, and their lack of cohesion with a plethora of players in COVID protocols won’t help against a deeper Heat team that thrives on defensive mistakes. Expect the Heat to manage without Lowry and Adebayo as Butler has a big night while players like Strus, Vincent and Martin continue to impress on both ends of the court.

Take the Heat as six-point favorites on FanDuel with value down to -7. I’ll be playing this for a half unit but will play it up to a full unit if the Heat get Tucker back as his defensive savvy and versatility alongside Butler and a limited frontcourt will go a long way.

Pick: Heat -6 (FanDuel)

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