A slow start to the season has turned into a five-game winning streak for the Miami Heat. Instead of further falling into a negative spiral with their injury woes, the Heat have responded in a big way, which unfortunately gives them an excuse to boast about “Heat Culture” every chance they get. Regardless, the Heat will be on the road tonight in Charlotte, and I think their momentum will help them build a strong lead going into halftime.
The Charlotte Hornets had most people tricked into thinking they would be an improved defensive unit after the first two games of the season. As it turns out, though, that does not seem to be the case. After allowing 129 points to the Knicks in a loss on Sunday night, the Hornets are now ranked dead last in the league in defensive efficiency rating (120.8) and 29th in points allowed per game (123.1).
Since the first two games of the year, Charlotte has not allowed fewer than 117 points in a game, and with opponents boasting an effective field goal percentage of 57.2%, there is a ton of pressure on their offense on a nightly basis. Whether it’s from beyond the arc or in the paint, the Hornets are hemorrhaging points on a nightly basis. Entering today’s matchup, Charlotte is 28th in opponent three-point percentage and 22nd in points in the paint allowed per game.
Even though Charlotte is ranked 9th in offensive efficiency rating, their offense has not been able to offset these defensive woes, which is primarily why they come into tonight with a 3-6 record. The Hornets are 6th in average points per game, but they are also 19th in true shooting percentage and will have their work cut out for them tonight against a Heat team that is 9th in defensive rating.
Over their five-game win streak, Miami is allowing an average of 109 points per game, and on the season, they are forcing an average of 17.1 turnovers per game. Miami has also started to show more life on the offensive end recently, as they scored 114 or more points in just one of their first five games, but they have managed to exceed that number in three of their last five contests.
In a battle between two teams trending in opposite directions, the Miami Heat are currently favored by (-2) in the first half, and I’ll be backing them for my play. The Heat have been a first-half covering machine early this season, entering tonight with a 7-2-1 1H ATS record. The same cannot be said about the Hornets, who are posting a 3-6 1H ATS record.
With a first-half ATS record like the Heat have, it is no surprise they are 9th in 1H NET rating and 6th in average points scored in the first quarter (30.1). Miami is 15th in first-half offensive rating, but they are also 11th in true shooting percentage. If those numbers don’t jump out at you, just remember they are playing a Hornets team that is 17th in 1H defensive rating and 25th in 1st-quarter points allowed.
While they should be able to find success offensively, one of the biggest keys to Miami covering this number will be their defense. The Heat are 6th in 1H defensive rating while the Hornets are 25th in 1H offensive rating and 27th in 1st quarter points per game. With the Heat holding opponents to a 45.6% shooting percentage in the first half and 25.1 points per game in the 2nd quarter, I think they can dominate on both ends of the floor.
Miami Heat 1H (-2)(-112) on DraftKings Sportsbook