The Heat have been one of the most inconsistent teams to read throughout the season so far, but come see why we think there's NBA betting value in backing them at home against the Hawks tonight.
Despite their recent struggles, the Heat are laying 4.5 points in the NBA odds to the visiting Hawks for tonight's division battle. Miami is 9-8 on the year, with Atlanta at 10-6.
Unlike previous seasons, the Hawks have been playing at a faster pace in 2014, which is part of the reason the total (201.5) is as high as it is. Atlanta is averaging 103.8 points per game, the ninth-best mark in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Heat have been good for just 95.7 points per contest thus far.
You know, losing the best player in the world is always going to hurt, and the Heat have found that out the hard way, at least in the early stages of the season.
It also, of course, doesn't help when another part of the former Big Three is consistently missing games, as it looks like Dwyane Wade is still unable to play as much as both he and the Heat would like. Wade made it a point to say he wanted to play in every game this season, but that was nothing more than a pipe dream as we've found out.
That being said, Wade did recently return and played in back-to-back games, though his presence wasn't enough to turn the tide against Washington on Monday. The Heat had absolutely no answer for John Wall, who terrorized the Miami backcourt throughout en route to a 107-86 loss for Miami.
Fortunately for the Heat, the Eastern Conference is still wide open and far less difficult than the West. Despite a mediocre 9-8 record, Miami is in sixth place in the conference standings - the Heat know they're most probably going to make the playoffs and therefore they don't feel like they need to take risks with Wade.
The Hawks just wrapped up a successful three-game home stand in which they topped New Orleans, Charlotte and Boston in consecutive games. They've now won five of their last six games to propel them into the second spot in the division.
Last night's victory over the Celtics didn't come easy though. The Hawks were actually down 12 after one quarter and by 16 at halftime, but they staged a great comeback after the break, outscoring Boston 59-39 to win 109-105 at home. Atlanta shot 52.4 percent overall and managed to pull off the win despite getting dominated on the glass.
Individually, Kyle Korver was the main man for the victors, as he hit 8-of-9 shots (six threes) to finish with 24 points, and he added six rebounds and four assists to the cause. Paul Millsap had a great all-around game as well, putting up 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
Where do the Hawks go from here? They haven't been nearly as efficient away from home this season, and you know it's always going to be tough playing the Heat in South Beach. Nonetheless, there's no question momentum is on Atlanta's side here.
Though the Hawks are on a nice roll, we're not overly impressed with the competition they've been facing, so we're not going to overreact.
The Heat are still a good team and they have plenty of time to get healthy and gel with new additions like Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts. We expect Wade to play tonight and, overall, we look for a much better effort on both ends of the court after Miami was beaten up badly by the Wizards.
What's more, Atlanta has struggled mightily on the road, going just 2-4 straight up. Put it all together and we'll be rolling with Miami for our NBA pick to cover the 4.5 points on their own court. Good luck!
Free NBA Pick: Miami Heat -4.5 at 5Dimes