While it doesn’t look the part on paper, this matchup between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers has a lot of potential lingering implications. The Cavs sit at the fifth seed and are two games back of the second seed while the Heat sit at the sixth seed and are trying to pad their lead away from the play-in tournament. The Cavaliers finally come into this one mostly healthy and look every bit as much of a sleeper conference champion. Can they shake up the standings with a win over the Heat?
Miami Heat vs Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened the Cavs as a -4 favorite. Bettors are also in agreement, backing the Cavs up to -5 as of writing. The Cavs are a complete unit, excelling on both the offensive and defensive end. They are a serious sleeper pick and are poised to give the Heat fits who have struggled with offensive consistency. This is also heavily predicated on the injury status of Jimmy Butler who is the Heat’s star two-way player and has popped up on the injury report as Questionable.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a premium as oddsmakers opened the total at 209.5. Bettors have yet to take a stand on either end, failing to nudge this in either direction. This is expected to be a defensive slug fest, yet the total is dangerously low for my liking. Should bettors start to steam it upwards, I would consider a under at tipoff pending how high it goes. As for now, this is an immediate pass for me.
Miami Heat vs Cleveland Cavaliers Prediction
The Pick: Cleveland -4
With the Cavs firing on all cylinders as Mitchell eases back from his injury, I will take them at no higher than -5.5 as this serves as a great spot to plant themselves firmly in the upper echelon of Eastern Conference elites. They have key advantages on both ends of the court and are going against a potentially hobbled Heat unit who have mightily struggled to put together any sort of consistency.
The Cavs defense has been especially elite, ranking top-5 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per TeamRankings. They excel at guarding the perimeter, a mainstay in today’s style of play, while also protecting the interior at an elite rate. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have been a formidable tandem in the paint, altering shots left and right and limiting opposing looks at the rim for low quality scoring opportunities.
This will give the Heat fits on offense, a unit that already struggles to put together any sort of consistency. They lack a perimeter presence, relying on a brunt of their scoring to come from the interior. Bam Adebayo has played a major role in their scoring success, now getting a matchup with either elite big. This allows the other to patrol the paint for the Heats cuts through the middle, negating those looks as well.
- Over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings
- Heat are 12-5 ATS in the last 17 meetings against each other
- Under is 18-7-1 in the last 26 meetings in Cleveland
Can the Cavs find scoring success against a pesky Heat defense?
Darius Garland vs Heat defense
Unlike the Heat offense, their defense has fared fairly well as they have built a defensive identity over the past couple of years. They excel at locking down the interior while Jimmy Butler patrols the perimeter with his elite on-ball defense.
Should he be good to go then I assume he would pick up Donovan Mitchell. While having your best player locked up would pose a potential problem for most units, the Cavs have elite facilitation through Darius Garland which allows the offense to open up even if their star player is getting locked up.
I expect the Cavs to keep the Heat defense shifting from Garland’s passing abilities, allowing their secondary scoring to find holes and exploit them for high quality looks at the rim. Mobley has also come into his own as a scoring option as well, making his battle with Adebayo an intriguing one.
Take the Cavaliers at no higher than -5.5 as they have advantages on both ends of the court against a potentially hobbled Heat squad.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineups
Miami Heat Injuries: Jimmy Butler (Q), Gabe Vincent (Q), Duncan Robinson (O), Omer Yurtseven (O)
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries: Kevin Love (P)