The Miami Heat head to Brooklyn with a 38-42 record and 20-20 on the road. They are a game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They take on the Brooklyn Nets, who are 41-40 and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2014-2015. Can the Heat take down the Nets or will Brooklyn spoil any remaining hope Miami has?
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Team statistical comparisons
Neither team is stellar from long distance, Miami is ranked 20th and Brooklyn is ranked 15th in efficiency. They are also in the bottom third in the league in turnovers, not making the most of their possessions. The teams are solid in rebounding, both ranked in the top ten in that category. The biggest difference is in scoring and defense. Miami is 26th in scoring, but 3rd in fewest points allowed. Brooklyn is more consistent, ranked 15th in scoring and 19th in opponents scoring.
Balanced attack key to Miami’s success
No players on the Heat average closer to 20 points per game, however they have a balanced attack led by Josh Richardson’s 16.6 points per game. Hassan Whiteside leads the team in rebounding at 11.4 per game and 1.9 blocks per game. Dwyane Wade, in his final NBA season, is averaging 14.6 per game, while Dion Waiters provides one of the few deep threats, hitting 38 percent from beyond the arc. Add Justise Winslow and Kelly Olynyk to the players averaging in double-digits per game.
Who steps up for the Nets in final regular season game?
Brooklyn could have playoff position locked up entering the final game of the season. Will they rest their starters or go full throttle, looking for momentum heading into the playoffs? The team is led by D’Angelo Russell, averaging 21.2 points, seven assists and 1.3 steals per game. He’s likely to have reduced minutes, which means the likes of Joe Harris (47 percent from beyond the arc), Caris LeVert (13.7 points) and DeMarre Carroll (11.2 points) will carry the load. Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis lead the team in rebounding, averaging a combined 17 boards per game.
The Nets likely won’t have anything to play for and Miami could still be alive for a playoff spot. The teams are relatively evenly matched. If the Heat have a shot at the playoffs, look for them to find a way to win. If all playoff spots are decided, look for the Nets to win. In any event, bet on this one to go “under” and be a tight contest.