Miami Heat vs Phoenix Suns Matchup Preview (1/8/22)
The Phoenix Suns (30-8) host the Miami Heat (24-15) Saturday night in a matchup between Western and Eastern conference contenders. The Heat currently have home court advantage in the first round and need to place as high as they can in the standings. They are 12-4 at home this season compared to 12-11 on the road. The fanbase is one of the best at hyping their players because fans eagerly await a return to the days of their LeBron James Big 3 dominance and consistent finals appearances. The Heat made the finals as an underdog two seasons ago, but they have added key pieces to reinforce their roster and become a favorite. Although health has been an issue, the Heat continue to be resilient and win games at a good rate. They are coming off an important win against the Portland Trail Blazers that stopped their two game losing streak in its tracks. Jimmy Butler (ankle), Gabe Vincent (COVID), Dewayne Dedmon (knee), Markieff Morris (neck), and KZ Okpala (wrist) are all game time decisions. Bam Adebayo (thumb) is expected to be out for at least another week, while Victor Oladipo (quad) could make his season debut soon. Once the Heat are healthy, they will feature one of the best two-way lineups in the NBA.
The Suns have consistently performed at a high level throughout the season. They surpassed the Golden State Warriors and now own the 1st seed in the daunting Western Conference. The scorching Suns are coming off a 17-point victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in which Chris Paul had a triple double of 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Over their last three games, the Suns have won by an average margin of victory of 21.3 points and embarrassed the LaMelo Ball Hornets through 133-99 thrashing. The Suns look motivated to get another shot at the title after blowing a 2-0 lead to the Milwaukee Bucks. Chris Paul is 36 and does not have many chances left to guide the Suns to a championship. Abdel Nader (COVID) is a game time decision. Frank Kaminsky (knee) and Landry Shamet (COVID) are expected to be out for this matchup. With the lineup healthy again, the Suns should feel confident.
Miami Heat vs Phoenix Suns Betting Odds
The Heat and Suns have not faced off this season, but Chris Paul is no stranger to playing against Kyle Lowry. The two have squared off 28 times since 2007, with Chris Paul winning the career matchup 18-10. I would bet the Suns moneyline and expect Paul to improve his career record to 19-10. The Suns are healthier and have more star power available. If Jimmy Butler is able to play, I expect the Suns to win by 4-6 points. Without Butler, the Suns could win by as many as 10-13. The Heat are known for their culture of toughness, accountability, and scrappiness. They are rarely blown out and always give maximum effort on the defensive end. Butler is one of the toughest, grittiest players in the NBA and pushes his teammates in a Michael Jordan-esque fashion. Look for the Heat to stick to the Suns until the third quarter, when the Suns finally start to create separation.
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Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: Footprint Center – Phoenix, AZ
Channel: NBA League Pass
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Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Miami Heat Analysis
The Heat are expecting to see their stars return to the court in the next few weeks. Bam Adebayo is the most versatile defensive center in the game. Although he is only listed at 6’9”, he weighs 255 lbs and has the strength to hang with seven footers like Embiid. Adebayo has uncommon lateral quickness for someone his size and can switch on the perimeter like a forward. Lowry is averaging 1.0 SPG and has a career average of 1.3 SPG. He is mentally tough and one of the best at taking charges. Lowry knows all of the defensive tricks and has the IQ to compensate for his age. Butler led the league in steals last year at 2.1 SPG and has 2.0 SPG this season. He is a lockdown perimeter defender with the strength to guard bigger wings and the anticipation to stop guards. Along with Butler on the wing, the Heat can start Victor Oladipo, who has averaged 1.8 SPG over the last 4 seasons. The Heat hope his injuries have not limited his quickness; nevertheless, he is a stout defender with experience guarding the opponents best player.
Finally, the fifth member of this monstrous defensive lineup is new addition PJ Tucker. For the Bucks last season, he guarded Kevin Durant in the Eastern Conference SemiFinals and forced him to grind for every point. Although he is 6’5”, Tucker is a 245 pound bulldog who guarded centers for the Houston Rockets when they were experimenting with small ball lineups. Their potential lineup of Lowry, Oladipo, Butler, Tucker, Adebayo should scare any team. Offensively, the Heat can use Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson to spread the floor and provide playmaking. Herro is leading the second unit and averaging 20.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.9 APG on 42/38/86 shooting. Duncan Robinson has struggled this season, but he is a sharpshooter with a career 40.9 3PT%. Overall, this Heat team is defined by their toughness and versatility.
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup
Phoenix Suns Analysis
Father Time has not gotten to Chris Paul yet. He is averaging 14.1 PPG, 10.1 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.9 SPG, but perhaps the most important aspect a player like Chris Paul brings to a team is intangibles. Many teams who have blown a Finals lead decline and do not mentally recover the next season. Paul has mentored his young teammates through leading by example. The Suns are 1st in the West and look hungry for success. Complacency has ruined many teams across any sport. Alabama football coach Nick Saban constantly preaches about the dangers of letting success destroy personal drive and motivation. Paul and the Suns have navigated this chasm and elevated themselves to championship contender status.
Although Jae Crowder has been a solid veteran for the Suns, the development of Cameron Johnson may push Crowder to the bench. Johnson came out of college as an excellent shooter with a ceiling of a solid starter. Although he is still mainly a spot up shooter, he has improved his handles and shot creation. Last season, 83.7% of his field goals were assisted. He has cut that down to 66.7% this year while increasing his 3PT% to an absurd 44.4%. His offensive and defensive impact has seen tremendous growth. His Offensive Box Plus MInus has jumped from 0.0 to 2.2, while his Defensive Box Plus Minus has increased from -0.2 to 1.0. The Suns have realized his utility and let Johnson shine recently. He is averaging 19 PPG the last four games and has not scored below 10 points since November 27th.
Miami Heat vs Phoenix Suns Daily Fantasy Picks
For this matchup, I am picking Omer Yurtseven and Devin Booker to have exceptional games for their standards. The 6’11” Heat center 5.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG on the season. However, his opportunity has skyrocketed with Bam Adebayo out. Over the last 10 games, Omer is averaging 10.4 PPG, 14 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.1 SPG and has cleared 10 rebounds every game. Although Ayton is a good defender, he has not played recently because of COVID. He will not be at peak conditioning, so Omer can take advantage of the matchup. With Butler questionable and Oladipo out, Devin Booker should not be tagged with an elite defender. Lowry will guard Paul, and Butler would not be at 100% health if he played. I like Booker to score 30+ points in conjunction with a few rebounds and assists. Look for Booker to use his status as the number one option and lead the game in scoring.