Miami at Charlotte -3.5 O/U 192.5
To call this a flat spot for Miami is something of an understatement. No team in the NBA has faced a more brutal scheduling stretch this season than what the Heat have just gone through. Since their four game homestand ended with a win over New Orleans on Christmas Day, the Heat have played 22 games. 21 of those games involved a court change from the previous contest. This will be their 14th road game in their last 16 contests overall.
The Heat have been riddled with key injuries throughout this stretch. Four of their five starters have missed at least one game over the last month; and backcourt mates Dwayne Wade and Goran Dragic have both been dealing with a barrage of injury related concerns. An ancient, creaking Amare Stoudamire sat on the end of the bench for the first two months of the season. Over the past two weeks, he’s played at least 17 minutes in eight straight games, forced into action because Eric Spoelstra has very limited frontcourt depth these days.
This is the last game of the extended – seemingly endless – road heavy portion of Miami’s schedule. The Heat have huge statement games at home against the Clippers and Spurs after this one, just prior to the All-Star break. Miami is coming off a very satisfying outright upset win at Dallas on Wednesday; their fifth win in six games at the tail end of this brutal scheduling stretch. I do NOT expect the Heat to bring their A-game tonight, or anything close!
Charlotte beat Miami in both home games against them last year and they won by 18 over the Heat in their lone previous matchup against them on this floor this year. The Hornets have gone through their own brutal scheduling stretch, playing 11 out of 15 on the road over a four week span in January, with court changes between 18 of their last 19 games! But they’re in the midst of a legitimate homestand now. They’ve had some time to rest and recuperate, playing only their second game in February.
Charlotte blew out the Cavs in the second half in their last outing, after blowing out the Lakers in their previous game. They should have leading scorer Kemba Walker back on the floor here, after missing the win over Cleveland. They’ve gotten key contributors Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin back on the court in recent games after all three missed time with injuries. This is a very reasonable pointspread, worth laying with Steve Clifford’s squad this evening.