The Suns and Heat meet for the first time this season in a battle between two of the NBA’s hottest teams, no pun intended. Phoenix will be a slight favorite per NBA betting odds as Miami has an uphill battle in ending its three-game skid, its longest in a month.
I usually like Miami as an underdog, but I’ll go the other way with Phoenix. The Heat have been playing like an elite team since getting healthy. But Phoenix has been money on the betting lines and should once again deliver this Monday.
Phoenix Suns: Point Guards’ Will
Chris Paul has one of the most underrated careers by any Hall of Fame-caliber NBA player. He has yet to win an NBA title and may be the greatest player to never be named MVP. But he has lifted Phoenix to its best season since another elite point guard, Steve Nash.
The Suns are one of only three NBA teams to be ranked in the top ten in offensive and defensive efficiency. They have the highest assist ratio in the league and the third-best true shooting percent (TS%).
On defense, Phoenix has learned to slow down the pace and protect the perimeter. They are limiting opponents to just 11 threes a game, the fewest in the NBA. The Suns don’t get too many steals or force too many turnovers, but they’re keeping teams to under 22 assists, also the fewest.
Phoenix has always had the talent with G Devin Booker, C DeAndre Ayton, and F Mikal Bridges. They just needed the right point guard to unlock the team’s potential.
Miami Heat: Two-Way Deal
Miami dropped three straight, their worst stretch since G/F Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup. He was snubbed from the All-Star game but has been putting up 23.1 points, 8.4 boards, and eight assists since his return. The Heat are 15-8 in this span in which he missed two games.
With a fully healthy team, Miami is a top-three defense in the league. They’ve allowed the second-fewest fastbreak points and the fewest points in the paint. However, they’re vulnerable to three-point shooting and allow the most attempts in a game at over 40.
The Heat addressed this by acquiring Trevor Ariza, who would help Butler and G/F Andre Iguodala chase away three-point shooters. However, both Ariza and Iguodala have little left to offer on offense. The team also needs better two-way play from their backcourt.
Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Goran Dragic are capable on offense albeit streaky. But they can be liabilities on the defensive end. Most of Miami’s players are also trending negatively on the plus-minus. They need better two-way play from all sides.
The online sportsbook leans on Phoenix via their ultra-efficient offense and strong perimeter defense. The Suns rarely commit mistakes and ensure their opponent isn’t hitting threes against them. They are a bad matchup against Miami, who happen to be weak to what they’re good at.
The Heat have one of the best interior defenses. Credit to having several stalwart frontcourt players like C Bam Adebayo and a set of grizzled veterans with championship experience.
But the Heat’s prone perimeter defense is also due to the lackluster play from their backcourt. The likes of Herro, Robinson, and Kendrick Nunn can pop for 20 each, but they’ll likely also give up 20 on the other end.
Phoenix plays a slay methodical pace as well. They may have a rough time scoring inside to keep Miami honest, but they’ll find ways to dance around them from outside. It could get dicey, but the Suns should win.
Pick: Phoenix Suns to win