The Miami Heat have quickly moved to one of the best marks in the Eastern Conference through the first several weeks of the season. The Heat are coming off a strong performance against the Golden State Warriors.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have picked up the slack over the last couple of weeks, having won four out of their last five contests. The Nets are fresh off an impressive home win over the Boston Celtics.
All of this sets up what should be an entertaining Eastern Conference matchup on Sunday afternoon.
Heat fueled by balanced playThe Heat have pushed forward to hold one of the top records in the Eastern Conference through much of the early goings of the season. They have had some strong balanced with their mixture of veteran and young talent across the board. The offseason addition of All-Star forward Jimmy Butler has quickly paid huge dividends as he has been their leading scorer throughout the year despite a drop his production averaging 18.7 points on 42.6 percent shooting from the floor along with 6.6 assists, and 5.4 assists per contest. That may be lower than what has come to be expected from Butler, but it should be a matter of time before he picks it up back on that end of the floor.
It has been much more than just Butler's play that has helped them push forward as the team has balanced production behind them. The Heat have already set a franchise record with at least 30 assists five times through the first 18 games of a season. They have also notched at least 70 points in a first half three times, which is also a team all-time mark in any season. Their 2,007 points this season through 18 games is also the most over that span in team history. It should also be noted that they hold a 10-0 record when scoring at least 110 points. That balance was put on display on Friday night with rookie Tyler Herro (29 points) and Goran Dragic (21 points) both scored more than 20 points off the bench in the same game, which was just the 12th time in franchise history that has happened. Ultimately, it will be their balanced play that pushes them past the Nets.
Nets surging in the right direction
Following a rough start to the season, the Nets have pushed their way back into the right direction after finally getting over the .500 mark on the year behind winning four out of their last five games. It has seen a strong collective effort to get things shifted back in the right direction towards being one of the better teams in the conference. What has been most telling is that they have been able to largely do that without the presence of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury that has hampered him over the last couple of weeks. The team has remained with a precautionary approach with Irving by leaning on the strong play of veteran point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been one of more underrated players in the league.
Dinwiddie has excelled in the increased role on the floor as he's coming off a big double-double performance in the win over the Celtics as he had 32 points and 11 assists. He has been the driving force offensively with Irving out as he received Eastern Conference Player of the Week for last week after leading the team to a 3-1 mark while averaging 25.3 points, 6.8 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. It was the first time he had received that honor in his career. He is among the highest-scoring guards in the league averaging 20.2 points per contest. But if the Nets are hoping to get past the Heat, that will need a strong collective effort against one of the top defensive teams in the league. That will require Dinwiddie to once again put up another strong performance for them to keep the ball rolling in the right
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Brooklyn is 2-6 ATS in their last eight games against a team with a winning% above .600.
- Brooklyn is 1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning straight-up record.
- Brooklyn is 1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win.
- Miami is 8-1 ATS in their last nine games against the Eastern Conference.
- Miami is 6-1 ATS in their last seven games playing on one day's rest.
- Miamia is 7-2 ATS in their last nine games overall.