Nets vs Heat Preview & Free Pick [April 18th 2021]

Brooklyn (38-18) at Miami (28-28)
When: Sunday, April 18th, 2021
Where: American Airlines Arena,
Miami, FL
Time: 3:30 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Brooklyn -4.5/225

The Miami Heat were on a roll to begin the month, but have fallen on hard times recently and are in danger of having to play their way into the postseason. The Heat look to rebound on Sunday afternoon against a very tough opponent in the Brooklyn Nets. Miami reeled off wins in six of seven games beginning at the end of March, but limp home after a 1-3 road trip with all three setbacks coming consecutively. They have also failed to cover the spread in each of the last three including an embarrassing 119-111 setback at the Minnesota Timberwolves as seven-point favorites. Karl-Anthony Towns was back in Minnesota’s lineup and scored 24 points and sparked a 22-6 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away. In the previous two games, they were blown out by the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. The skid has dropped Miami to seventh place in the East, which would put them in the play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots. They currently sit 1.5 games behind the New York Knicks. The Nets are trying to capture the No. 1 seed in the East and trail Philadelphia by a game. They rebounded from a loss to the 76ers by defeating the Charlotte Hornets 130-115 as 12-point favorites. Brooklyn easily handled the Hornets despite James Harden being sidelined with a right-hamstring strain and losing LaMarcus Aldridge to retirement. Brooklyn also lost point guard Chris Chiozza, who recently had hand surgery, and has been playing without Tyler Johnson (right-knee soreness). The Nets won both meetings so far this season in Brooklyn – 128-124 on Jan. 23 and 98-85 two days later. The over is 3-1 in the last four meetings.

Kevin Durant and Joe Harris led the way in the win over the Hornets on Friday. Durant had 25 points while Harris led the team with 26. Kyrie Irving had just 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but was solid in the two games in January against the Heat. Irving has averaged 22.0 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the field and 44.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc against the Heat this season. Nets general manager Sean Marks said Harden is progressing but needs another day or two of playing 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 in practice. Harden has missed five consecutive games with what was diagnosed as a Grade 1 strain. Brooklyn will play at New Orleans on Tuesday.

Miami’s defense has been a big reason why they have struggled lately, allowing their last three opponents to score an average of 116.0 points on 50.8 percent shooting from the field. That’s not a good sign with the high-scoring Nets coming to town, but Brooklyn isn’t that great defensively. The Nets are 23rd in the NBA with 114.2 points allowed per game and 26th with opponents attempting 91.0 field goals per contest. Jimmy Butler was unavailable in the first two meetings with Brooklyn this season, will be available on Sunday. He is averaging 21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists, so far this season. Another factor in the Heat’s struggles has been the inability to get Victor Oladipo onto the court enough. Oladipo has played only four games since being traded to Miami and has missed the past four games with right-knee soreness.

This is a tough one to call, but I will take the points. The Nets are still not 100% and I can’t see the bench duplicating what they did last game. The Heat need this game bad and I think they can keep it close at home.

Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.

Pick: Heat +5.5