Does the Miami Heat have the firepower to earn our Futures NBA pick here, or will the betting odds favorite take the title? Let’s think about it and come up with a bet-able angle.
Introduction, Potential Playoff Paths
On the surface, the current 7th-seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat (34-39, 94.7 PF-96.8 PA) and Head Coach Erik Spoelstra look like they just might be the team to knock off the No. 2-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (48-27) and former superstar LeBron James (+850 to win NBA Regular season MVP, Paddy Power) in a potential Round 1 meeting, but upon closer scrutiny, this is really only a team that could probably win 1 game against the Cavaliers in that theoretical series and Miami might not even end up finishing in the No. 7 spot as it looked just a week ago. At 34-39, the Heat are only 2 games behind the 6-seed—the Milwaukee Bucks (36-37)—and now just 1½ games ahead of the new and latest No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets (32-40, W3, 7-3 L10). So, four different things could potentially happen to this team. 1—They finish strong and snag the No. 6 spot, avoiding LeBron and the Cavs, potentially drawing the currently No. 3-seeded Chicago Bulls; 2—Miami finishes where it’s at (No. 7) and gets that anticipated series with King James and the Cleveland Cavaliers; 3—The Heat are caught at No. 7 by those Nets (32-40) or the Boston Celtics (32-41) or the Indiana Pacers (32-41) or maybe even the Charlotte Hornets (31-41), and end up in the No. 8 spot and draw the conference’s No. 1 seed, the Atlanta Hawks. Not a bad thing in my mind for the Heat; Or, 4—This Miami Heat (150/1 to win NBA Championship, Paddy Power) team chokes and folds over its 9 remaining Regular Season games and fails to make the NBA Playoffs. So, any foregone conclusions that the Heat’s Dwyane Wade and LeBron will be reuniting in the NBA Playoffs when they begin on Saturday, April 14 are just that for now—foregone conclusions.
Anyway, any previous thoughts of the Heat (66/1 to win Eastern Conference, bet365) possibly upsetting the Cavs have evaporated for the moment, and it does feel like Miami might actually be better off facing the Hawks in Round 1 rather than the Cavaliers or Bulls. And should the Heat not even make the postseason, then this NBA Playoff Profile will end up being more like a warning that Things Aren’t Always As They Seem and that Potential Playoff scenarios will still probably need the adjective ‘Potential’ attached until around Midnight on April 15, the same exact time local newscasts will be pounding it into your head that you need to get your federal taxes filed by. We live in many-sized circles of Time, it seems.
Miami Heat Possible Starting Five
C—Udonis Haslem (4.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
PF—Luol Deng (14.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
SF—Henry Walker (8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
SG—Dwyane Wade (21.8 ppg)
PG—Goran Dragic (16.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.4 apg)
Miami Heat Bench, Roster Depth
C—Chris Andersen (5.4 ppg, 5.1 ppg)
PF—Michael Beasley (8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
SF—James Ennis (4.4 ppg)
SG—Tyler Johnson (6.2 ppg)
PG—Mario Chalmers (10.7 ppg)
PF—Josh McRoberts (4.2 ppg)—IL
SG—Zoran Dragic (2.1 ppg)
PG—Shabazz Napier (5.1 ppg)
PF—Chris Bosh (21.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg)—IL
C—Hassan Whiteside (9.8 rpg, 2.5 bpg)
Injuries, Coaching, Intangibles
Keep in mind when deciding NBA Picks on Miami that this Heat team is awfully beat up right now, and if you look at all the injuries this team allegedly and reportedly has heading into Tuesday’s night nationally televised game (TNT, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT; Spurs -6, Pinnacle) against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs (47-26) from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, you might actually think they might not be able to field a team. (Of note: In The Old Days, it was not cool to smoosh two names together like the AmericanAirlines Arena has done, but now anything goes and all bets are off. Before you know it, they’ll just be expressing themselves as a Symbol.) Besides not having two pretty key cogs in starter Chrish Bosh (blood clots) and reserve Josh McRoberts (knee surgery) out for Tuesday—or for the rest of the season for that matter—the Heat also have Luol Deng (knee), Hassan Whiteside (hand), Chris Andersen (calf, shoulder), Michael Beasley (elbow) and Udonis Haslem (everything) all listed as Questionable for the Spurs game. So maybe Heat mascot Burnie finally gets that start at the Point. (I hear he’s red-hot when he’s on.) And worth a chuckle from Rotoworld: “Udonis Haslem (everything) said that ‘everything’ is a lingering injury for him.” Ditto dat here, Bruh.
As far as coaching goes, having the oft-underappreciated Erik Spoelstra in charge is a very nice plus for the Heat, as is their Defense (#3 in NBA, 96.5 ppg) and underrated Bench (Andersen, Chalmers, Beasley, Napier). And this is a team which definitely won’t be scared of anyone. But bravado can only take you so far. With Bosh and McRoberts missing, Miami’s chances of shining in the postseason will really be hurt. And this team is surprisingly very, very poor statistically in Points (27th), Assists (28th) as well as Rebounding (30th). The Heat (33-36-4 ATS, 15-18-3 ATS Home, 18-18-1 ATS Road) also haven’t been world-beaters in their Southeast Division (4-10), nor their conference (22-22). So, in essence, not even being a .500 team (34-39) in the lesser of the NBA’s two conferences doesn’t bode well when all the Bad Teams are finally sent home for the Summer.
Wade has proven everyone wrong that he shouldn’t have retired and this team hasn’t imploded since losing LeBron James back to his old team and hometown over the summer. What Miami has done this season has been impressive, but it’s important to look at this team in the bigger context of the conference (Eastern) in which they play. This team would have no chance of making the Western Conference playoffs, and despite radio guys and bloggers and fans and TV execs all chirping about a possible Wade-LeBron, Heat-Cavaliers showdown, the luster is really lost upon closer scrutiny. One team is great and the other lucky to be using the word “Playoffs.” And, as mentioned up yonder, these two may not even end up playing each other in the NBA Playoffs. After the Spurs on Tuesday night, Miami will be traveling to Cleveland on Thursday night to actually wrap up the Regular Season series with LeBron and those Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena (TNT, 8 p.m./5 p.m ET). This season, the Heat are a surprising 2-1 SU (2-1 ATS) versus Cleveland winning by 14 and 10 points at Home in Miami. But should these two strangely familiar teams end up meeting in Round 1 of the coming NBA Playoffs, expect a different Cavaliers team—especially in terms of focus—to show up and look for Cleveland to win by double-digits in games where the NBA odds spreads will likely be below 10 points.
And if Bosh were actually available for the Heat, it might actually be a different story in terms of competitiveness and if the Cavaliers actually do end up covering the Point Spread(s). He is that valuable on the court in terms of scoring, rebounding and leadership and it can’t be stated enough how much weaker this team really is without Chris Bosh in its Starting 5. Deng and Beasley have both done a wonderful job in Bosh’s stead at the Power Forward (PF) spot, but going into the postseason without Bosh is like going into a NASCAR race without a windshield in that you will be back in the garage before you even know it, Bubba. If Cleveland didn’t trade for Mozgov and Bosh wasn’t out, there might be some hope for the Heat here in a potential Round 1 series against the Cavaliers (+275 to win NBA Championship, Sky Bet), but they did (trade for Mozgov) and he (Bosh) is out so maybe Miami gets lucky and falls to the No. 8 spot and gets a Hawks (+750 to win NBA Championship, bet365) team it might be able to upset? Sounds and looks cute, but it probably won’t end up happening that way.
PREDICTED PLAYOFF DESTINY: Miami Heat Eliminated in 5 Games in Round 1 by Cleveland Cavaliers
RELATED NBA PICKS: Fade Miami Heat ATS in Potential Road Games #1 and #2 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers