Nets vs Heat Picks and Predictions: The Butler Did It Again

Jimmy Butler's been kicking it into high gear for the Heat's playoff push, and the Nets' still-syncing defensive schemes won't help keep him away from the charity stripe. See why our NBA picks are backing more Buckets on Saturday.

Rory Breasail - Betting Analyst at Covers.com
Rory Breasail • Betting Analyst
Mar 25, 2023 • 08:20 ET • 4 min read
Jimmy Butler Miami Heat
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With the remaining games in the NBA regular season down to single digits, the race for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference hangs on a razor's edge. The Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat are separated by just half a game in the standings, and if the Heat win tonight they would close to within a game of the sixth-place New York Knicks.

The really fun part? The Heat then go on to play the Knicks in Madison Square Garden early next week, with the potential to pass them in the standings.

The Nets have no intention of being a mere footnote to the latest chapter of the Knicks-Heat rivalry however, and their cadre of rangy wings led by late-season breakout player Mikal Bridges will prove a unique challenge to a suddenly surging Miami team.

Our NBA picks and predictions for Nets vs. Heat for Saturday, March 25 believe Jimmy Butler will continue his recent torrid scoring stretch.

Nets vs Heat best odds

Nets vs Heat picks and predictions

After their recent win against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, head coach of the Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra, called Jimmy Butler “a generational competitor”. He noted that when the intensity ramps up, whether in a game or in a particular part of the season, that’s when Jimmy is not only at his best, he’s among the greatest to ever do it. I can’t think of a more apt description of Butler, who truly seems to elevate his game in the biggest moments unlike almost anyone in the modern NBA.

Butler has quietly put together yet another brilliant campaign this season. It’s beginning to feel a lot like the 2020-21 season, where although he failed to make the All-Star team, it was impossible to deny him All-NBA honors. Jimmy is up to 130.3 points per shot attempt per Cleaning the Glass, far and away the best mark of his career and 97th percentile among all NBA forwards. That he does this while almost entirely shirking 3-point attempts is remarkable in this era.

In terms of foul drawing, he’s quite literally the best in Association per Cleaning the Glass, getting to the line on 23.2% of his shot attempts, and converting them at north of 85% clip. His 55.2% effective field goal percentage is also far and away a career-high. But while Butler has been stellar all year long, he’s ramped it up even more down the stretch as Miami grows increasingly desperate for wins.

Butler is averaging 27.2 points over his last 10 games, on a game-breaking 70.3% true shooting. It should be no surprise that he’s hit the Over on his points prop in nine straight contests as well.

The Heat are in a mad scramble for playoff seeding at the moment, racing up the standings in the Eastern Conference in an attempt to not only avoid the play-in tournament but unseat the Knicks and lock in a series against the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the process. By sheer force of will Butler might just get it done, which is why I am so bullish on his scoring prop tonight. 

Not only is this game important in determining how high Miami might climb in their quest for post-season seeding, it also has massive implications for how low they could fall. As of right now, the Brooklyn Nets are a mere half-game behind the Heat in the seventh seed, a win on Saturday would add a full game to Miami’s lead.

Working in Butler's favor is that he won’t have to expend too much energy on the defensive end on Saturday. The Nets have a lot of 3-and-D wings, but vanishingly few on-ball creators. In their matchup back in February Butler was able to catch his wind on every Nets’ offensive possession when defending one of Dorian Finney-Smith or Cameron Johnson parked in the corner.

The Nets' switching scheme is, in theory, a strength to guarding Butler, but it can be a curse as well. Brooklyn is given to soft-switching, and crafty players like Butler can exploit that to mismatch hunt or slip the screen entirely. Brooklyn is also still learning how to play together and momentary hesitations that come from that frequently translate to trips to the foul line.

Expect Butler to come through big again on Saturday.

My best bet: Jimmy Butler Over 24.5 points (-115)

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Nets vs Heat spread analysis

The Nets are 1-5 in their last five games, and their chances of avoiding the play-in tournament are looking slimmer by the day. They’ve had a negative 4.8-point differential for the past two weeks, and they’ve been underperforming against the spread by an average of 2.1 points per game in that same span per Cleaning the Glass. Their defense has remained solid if unremarkable, but their offense has plummeted to Bottom-5 depths. That spells trouble against the Heat, who while not the league’s best defense can play as well as anyone on that side of the court when they put their mind to it.

Still, there are some positive trends in Brooklyn’s favor. Though underperforming at home, they’re 5-1 ATS in their last six road games. On top of that, they’re 5-0 ATS when playing on a single day of rest, as well as 4-0 ATS against winning teams. 

So, while Miami has played much better overall, it’s far from a lock to cover at -5.5. The Heat are racking up wins of late, but they’re just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 at home and a puzzling 6-24-1 in their last 31 games following an ATS win. While I’ve liked a lot of what Miami has been doing lately, I don’t see the value in laying either team at this number.

Nets vs Heat Over/Under analysis

It’s not too often you see a line this low for a game between two playoff-caliber teams. The personnel does suggest that this will be something of a slugfest, with Butler and Bam Adebayo plenty capable of slowing down Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie, with the Nets' plethora of wings deployed to stop Jimmy & Co. on the other end. 

But while Miami has hovered around a Top-5 defensive rating all season long, it’s played closer to average in this recent stretch, while the offense (led by Butler and hot shooting) has played at a Top-10 level for the first time all season long. That’s seen the Over cash in four straight Heat home games, as well as in five of their last seven overall. 

Against quality competition, they still get into grind-it-out affairs though, both incapable of scoring against the best and leaning into their natural affinities themselves. That’s contributed to the Under going 6-2 in their last eight games against teams with winning records.

The Heat also play at one of the lowest paces in the NBA at just 98.8 possessions per game, and Brooklyn isn’t all that far behind them. Brooklyn’s offense has really struggled to produce against even modest competition lately, so I’d lean Under even at 221.5.

Nets vs Heat betting trend to know

Nets are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games. Find more NBA betting trends for Nets vs. Heat.

Nets vs Heat game info

Location: Miami-Dade Arena, Miami, FL
Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: BSSUN, YES

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