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Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets Eastern Conference Betting Preview

We have two Eastern conference teams with much on the line when the Miami Heat visit the Charlotte Hornets this weekend. The game tips off on Sunday at 8 pm ET.

Both Miami and Charlotte are in the mix of the Eastern Conference playoff race. As it stands, both are on pace to meet in the play-in tournament.

As a reminder, teams that finish in seventh through 10th place in the standings will play a handful of games to determine the seventh and eighth seeds in the playoffs. Let's see how each team matches up in this Sunday NBA game.


Miami Heat: Defensively Focused

Miami hasn't been as dominant as it was in the bubble last summer, but the defending Eastern champs still have potential. The Heat are owners of one of the top defenses in the NBA. Their defense is balanced, too, both strong in the paint and guarding the perimeter.

The Heat offense leaves a bit to be desired, as it is a bottom 10 unit at scoring. Their low point total is partly thanks to their pace of play, the slowest in the NBA.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo remain the top two players on the team on the court and the stat sheet. Butler leads the Heat in points, assists and steals, while Adebayo leads the team in rebounds and blocks.

Butler's 2.1 steals and Adebayo's 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals are one of just many reasons the Heat are so strong on the defensive end.

On offense, the Heat prefer to shoot the three, ranking 15th in the NBA in threes made. That effort is led by Duncan Robinson, who is shooting over 40% from deep on eight attempts per game. As of this writing, Miami is 27-34-1 against the spread and 30-32 against over/unders.

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Charlotte Hornets: Letting Threes Fly

Charlotte, even with injuries to LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, is squarely in the playoff mix in the East. Charlotte's success is largely attributed to its three-point success, as it is eighth in threes made.

That effort is highlighted by Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham. Both guards shoot over eight threes per game, shooting 40 and 38% from deep, respectively.

Stretch 4 PJ Washington has also opened the offense, shooting over 40% from deep and hauling in 6.3 rebounds per game. On paper, the Hornets should not be winning as much as they are. They are a bottom 10 offense and a bottom 10 defense.

On defense, they aren't particularly vulnerable to one area more than the other, a half-positive for the situation. As of this writing, the Hornets are 32-28-1 ATS and 26-34-1 against over/unders.

Game Pick: Defense First

Charlotte is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA and usually a good team to take props on. This is not one of those times, as the Miami defense is one of the best at stopping outside shots.

The Hornets have won both of the first two games between these teams, but that was with Ball, Hayward and Malik Monk. Monk, in particular, has had Miami's number, as he was the leading scorer in both games.

He won't be available on Sunday, so the pick here is on defense. Miami should cover and win this game on the road.

Take a look at our most recent article, it was a Heat at Trail Blazers free pick.