The Miami Heat welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to town on Friday night. The NBA odds think this will be a lower-scoring affair, so how should we attack these Friday night values?
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Miami Heat
Friday, January 28, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at FTX Arena
Jimmy G. Buckets Questionable
The Miami Heat have had their fair share of injury and health and safety protocol issues this season and Friday is no different.
Jimmy Butler is listed as questionable in the official injury report with a big toe irritation.
Now, that doesn’t sound like a very serious injury, but toe issues for basketball players can be serious if there is any ligament damage.
Butler played in Miami’s last game and had a good game, but he has also missed 18 games this season already, so him sitting out another game would be a disappointment, but not unheard of. This is especially true with this being the front half of a home-home back-to-back.
The Clippers are not an easy team to deal with and I think that should play a part in Butler suiting up for this one with Toronto coming to town tomorrow.
The Heat also starts a long six-game road stretch across the Eastern half of the United States after these next two home days on Friday and Saturday. They will want Butler healthy for that stretch.
Even if Butler doesn’t play tonight, I think there is some value on the Heat still. While Miami is still missing Kyle Lowry, they have been able to weather the storm against lesser opponents and the Clippers certainly fall in that category.
Los Angeles will also be without Marcus Morris tonight who will miss the game for personal reasons.
For a team that was already struggling to score, that may be the death blow to this Clippers team still without their two superstars.
The Sharp Pick
I think the Heat can cover the full game spread here, but I’m instead going after the first-half number for several reasons. It’s just a better value currently with the Butler injury question mark.
If Butler plays, that -4 won’t be around for long and with the injuries to the Clippers, the Heat’s defense may have their way with LA tonight.
LA has been a very slow-starting team this season. They are averaging just 103.6 points per 100 possessions in the first halves of their games, which ranks them 27th in the NBA. Only the Pistons, Thunder, and Magic have worse first-half offenses.
Furthermore, when the Clippers travel on the road, their first-half offensive rating drops even further to 101.3. It could pour on the Clippers tonight if they let it start raining early.
The Clippers’ defense makes up for a lot of these issues on most nights, but on the road and against an even better defensive team, it’s going to show tonight.
There is a reason the best sportsbooks have the first half total so close to 100 points. There’s a chance the Clippers are well below 50 first-half points tonight if Butler is out there.
It’s not just a fade of the Clippers though. Miami owns the second-best offensive rating in the league over their last five first halves and at home, they have been deadly.
If you look at their last eight home games, Miami has a first-half net rating of +15.9 points per 100 possessions.
With all this in mind, assuming Butler plays, the Heat first half is a fine value for our NBA picks. Even if Butler sits, the line should move down at least a half-point, if not a full point, so keep an eye on the news to see before you dive straight in with a full unit.
I’m putting a smaller wager on -4 right now and will wait and see whether I want to double down on that number if Butler is in, or wait out a better number when the line dips if Butler is ruled out.
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