Through the first few days of the NBA Summer League, the event has provided exactly what it is supposed to, which is a glimpse into the future for fans, an event to overreact to, and a look at some unlikely players that could force their way onto a roster. As the event rolls on tonight, a team with one of the best rosters, the Miami Heat, will take on the Phoenix Suns, and we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
Unless someone is a die-hard college basketball fan, the common response to seeing the Phoenix Suns Summer League roster for the first time is, “Who?” While their actual team's roster features some of the most known players in the league, the Suns' Summer League unit is led by second-round pick Toumani Camara and second-year player Jordan Goodwin.
In the Suns' first game of the event against the Bucks, they fell 84-75, as they shot 41.1% from the field and 17.4% from three on 23 attempts. Camara separated himself as the go-to guy on the roster by scoring a team-high 20 points. The lack of depth on the roster becomes very noticeable when you look at the Phoenix bench, as they had just one player produce in their first game, as undrafted guard Grant Sherfield had 11 points and six assists.
Lack of scoring or depth is not a problem for the Suns' opponent tonight, as the Miami Heat opened the Vegas portion of their Summer League by beating the Celtics 99-88. All five Heat starters finished in double figures, with center Orlando Robinson leading the way with 36 points and 11 rebounds. What’s arguably the most impressive aspect about the Heat’s win was that they did it without this year’s first-round pick Jaime Jaquez Jr., and their bench unit only scored a combined ten points.
Anyone who has watched the finals or playoffs over the past few years has noticed how good Miami is at identifying undrafted talents, and it looks like this year is no different. Drew Peterson out of USC could be this year’s name to look for, as he went 5-9 from the field and 3-5 from three in the game against the Celtics to give him 13 points.
The Miami Heat are listed as (-4) point favorites tonight, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Once the rosters for this event were released, one of my main betting strategies was to fade the Suns as long as the number was good, and so far, that strategy is 1-0. The talent differential between the two units is alarming, so getting a number like this is ideal, but the true factor separating the teams is shooting.
Not only did Phoenix struggle from beyond the arc in their opening game, but they also shot just 61.1% from the free throw line on 18 attempts. Meanwhile, the Heat shot 41.9% from three and 83.3% from the charity stripe on 24 attempts. Miami is also scrappy on the boards, which is an area they should have a significant advantage tonight.
Miami pulled down 38 rebounds against the Celtics, with Orlando Robinson pulling down 11 himself. Outside of Trey Jemison and Toumani Camara, the Suns don’t have anybody that can challenge Miami on the glass, as they finished their first game with just 29 rebounds. Remember, this is a Summer League game, so don’t ruin your bankroll on it, but if you’re going to bet on one game tonight, I’d recommend this one.
Miami Heat (-4)