The NBA regular season has come to a close, and although the end of it was what some would consider a disgrace to the sport, the postseason can now begin. The Play-In Tournament will tip off with the Atlanta Hawks heading to Miami to take on the Heat tomorrow at 7:30 PM EST on TNT. We’ll preview the game before going over why my best play for the action will be on a first-half bet.
After finishing 44-38 in the regular season, the Miami Heat secured the seven seed in the playoffs and homecourt advantage. Miami ended the regular season with a (-.5) NET rating, ranking 21st in the league, and the reason for the negative rating was their offense. The Heat’s offensive efficiency rating of 112.3 ranked 25th and was the worst rating put up by a playoff team.
Miami put together better numbers on the offensive end as the season went on and even ranked 12th in offensive rating over the past 15 games. In that 15-game stretch at the end of the season, the Heat went 9-6 overall, yet they still struggled to perform at a high level on both ends of the floor. The Heat ranked 20th in defensive efficiency rating over that 15-game stretch, which is rare to see from them, especially since they were 9th in defensive rating for the entire season.
The Heat and Hawks met four times during the regular season, with Miami winning the series 3-1. At the beginning of March, these two teams played in a back-to-back, with the Heat coming away with the win in both games. The most recent meeting was a high-scoring battle that saw Miami win 130-128, which marked the second most points they scored in a game during the regular season.
Allowing 130 points to the Heat is a solid example of how poor the Hawks’ defense was this season. Atlanta’s defensive efficiency rating of 115.4 ranked 22nd in the league and is the worst defensive rating by any Eastern Conference playoff team. Much like the Heat, the Hawks had a massive disparity in output on both ends of the floor, which led to their NET rating for the season to be (.1).
For my play in this one, I’ll be taking the over of the first-half point total currently set at 115.5. The Miami Heat were the most profitable 1H over teams during the regular season, while the Hawks were the fifth most profitable. Miami saw 47 of their games go over the total in the first half, and the Hawks had 43 go over. In the four meetings between the two teams this season, three of them had a total of 115 or higher going into halftime.
The Hawks averaged 60.3 points per game in the first half this season which was the fourth-highest average in the league. Atlanta was the second-highest-scoring team in the 1H when playing on the road this season like they will be tomorrow. Defensively, the Hawks ranked 25th in 1H points allowed per game, so not only have they shot the ball well in the first half, but they’ve allowed opponents to score right with them.
Miami may have struggled on offense for the bulk of the year, but they consistently found success against the Hawks’ defense. The Heat will also go into tomorrow’s matchup with some momentum on the offensive end, especially in the 1H, as they ranked 10th in the league over the past ten games in 1H true shooting percentage.
1H Over 115.5