The Miami Heat try to widen their lead in the Southeast Division when they take on the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night. The opening tip for this contest of division rivals is set for 7 p.m. ET at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC.
The Heat snapped a three-game losing streak with a rout of the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. Miami is 33-20 and in first place in the Southeast Division, leading the second-place Hornets by five games.
Charlotte has dropped three in a row after a 102-101 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. The Hornets are 28-25 and in second in the Southeast Division, leading the third-place Atlanta Hawks by 2½ games.
Winning With D
The Miami defense was at its best in snapping its losing streak on Thursday night, holding San Antonio to 37.5% shooting from the floor, including 24.2% from 3-point range. The Heat also forced 17 turnovers by the Spurs, and they were helped by 24 points off the bench by guard Tyler Herro.
“He’s confident,” Miami forward Jimmy Butler said of Herro after Thursday’s win. “We all know that he can put the ball in the basket, but he also does a great job of getting everybody else involved. He’s getting better and better when it comes to making the right read in the pick-and-roll and the iso situation. If he keeps playing the way that he’s playing, he’s going to be key for us down the line.”
Herro is averaging 20.1 points despite making 34 of his 44 appearances this season as a reserve. He’s also averaging 4.8 rebounds and a career-best 4.0 assists per game.
Butler is certainly a key as well, as he leads the Heat in scoring at 21.7 points per game as well as averaging 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals per contest. He also sets the tone with his toughness on both ends of the floor.
Miami is getting healthy, which is trouble for the rest of the league. Center Bam Adebayo has been back for 10 games after missing nearly two months with a hand injury, and he’s averaging 18.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
Also back is guard Kyle Lowry, who was a little rusty in his first game back Thursday after missing nine games due to a personal matter. He had just two points and turned the ball over six times against the Spurs, but in his first season with the Heat, he’s averaging 13.1 points and a team-best 8.2 assists, which is good for sixth in the league.
The Hornets are still trying to play at their best, as they seem to swap losing streaks and winning streaks and lack some consistency in their play. The team has a number of scoring options, but they need to be able to count on who is going to come through each night, as the team has had four different leading scorers over the last five games.
Forward Miles Bridges has been the most consistent scorer, pacing the team with 19.8 points per game while grabbing 7.2 rebounds and dishing out 3.5 assists. The fourth-year forward is putting up career stats across the board and was considered one of the biggest snubs when the All-Star reserves were announced this week.
Guard LaMelo Ball has nearly identical stats to Bridges, though he is a bit higher in the assist category, ranking 10th in the league at 7.6 per game. Otherwise, he’s also averaging 19.8 points and grabbing 7.2 rebounds along with 1.5 steals per contest.
Guard Terry Rozier can get hot as he did on Friday night, leading the team with 24 points in the loss to Cleveland. Rozier is averaging 18.4 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 36.9% from 3-point range.
Heat Win On Road
Miami is getting its pieces back, and that’s going to make it one of the better teams in the league. The Heat on the defensive end should be able to keep the Hornets in check as they did in a 114-99 victory in the first meeting this season.
When doing your NBA betting, take Miami to win and cover on the road.