The Miami Heat should be too hot for the Cleveland Cavaliers this Friday night – but do they belong in your NBA picks?
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat
Friday, March 11, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at FTX Arena
There aren’t too many things in this world that can keep Jimmy Butler from doing his thing. Sinus congestion is apparently one of them. Butler was absent Wednesday night when the Miami Heat hosted the Phoenix Suns; the Suns rolled to a 111-90 victory as 4-point underdogs, snapping Miami’s five-game ATS streak in the process.
Butler’s status for Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers (38-27 SU, 37-26-2 ATS) remains questionable as we go to press, but with the Heat opening as 5.5-point home faves at BetMGM and elsewhere, it seems the top sportsbooks already have the answer – and the answer is “DNP.”
The Heat (44-23 SU, 39-27-1 ATS) are certainly a bargain at this price if that’s not the case and Butler does play. Should they go in your NBA picks if he doesn’t?
Fade the Public
Old-school handicappers might be tempted. Once upon a time, betting on teams with missing stars like Butler was a license to print money. The logic behind this angle still stands when it comes to “public” bettors and their effect on the NBA odds board, but now that we all have computers and everyone’s a little bit smarter, the potential profit margins on any old-school angle aren’t quite as juicy.
It certainly didn’t pan out Wednesday night for Miami supporters. But that was against the Suns, the No. 1 team in the league standings – albeit one without Chris Paul. The Cavaliers are in much deeper trouble now that Jarrett Allen (finger) has joined Collin Sexton (knee) and the recently acquired Caris LeVert (foot) on the injured list.
Allen was Cleveland’s breakout story this year, making his first All-Star team; his prolonged absence could knock the Cavs out of the playoff picture.
Vic Is Here
Having said that, Cleveland was without Allen this past Tuesday when they beat the Indiana Pacers 127-124 as 2.5-point road faves. See the pattern here? This was against a Pacers team with injury problems far worse than Miami’s. Allen’s absence will be felt more dearly when they run into Bam Adebayo, and the Heat have a capable backup center in Dewayne Dedmon who can take advantage of Cleveland’s depleted frontcourt.
Not that Butler won’t be missed. It should sting a bit less, though, now that Victor Oladipo has returned to action. Oladipo’s second game back off the injured list wasn’t quite as notable as his first; the Suns held the former two-time All-Star to just four points (on 2-of-5 shooting) in 16 quiet minutes off the bench. His form looks good, though, and Oladipo now has those requisite two games under his belt to get his sea legs back.
With Miami’s depth, Cleveland’s relative lack thereof, and whatever chance Butler still has of playing as you read this, it’s pretty much a slam-dunk to put at least a fun-sized wager on the Heat. Don’t go too deep into your bankroll, though. These Cavs are trending upwards as a franchise. Bet accordingly.
NBA Pick: Heat –5.5 (–110) at BetMGM