The Miami Heat weathered injuries to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and took over the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference over the weekend ahead of the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets. You can back the ascending Heat at +1400 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship over at DraftKings.

Jimmy Butler Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra Eastern Conference #1
Jimmy Butler from the Miami Heat discusses in-game adjustments with head coach Erik Spoelstra during a recent victory over the LA Lakers. (Image: Michael Reaves/Getty)

At the end of the preseason, the Heat were only -125 odds favorites to win the Southeast Division. The Atlanta Hawks were a popular pick at +135 odds and right behind the Heat, due to their deep run in the 2021 NBA playoffs with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

However, the Hawks have been nothing short of a disaster this season. Teams are gunning for them. Defenses figured out how to effectively guard Trae Young. Disgruntled power forward John Collins hinted at a trade if the Hawks are not going to get him the ball.

At the onset of the season, all eyes were on the Washington Wizards and their 10-3 start. The Wizards came crashing back down to reality with a 13-21 record since their auspicious start.

With all the attention on the Hawks and the Wizards early on, the Heat flew under the radar. The Heat struggled in November and were 13-9 at one point with their title odds plummeting. Since early December, the Heat went on a heater with a 17-8 clip. They won seven out of their last 10 games and surged to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

Bam Returns, Omer Held the Line

The Heat lost two key starters and two of their top scorers in the first half of the season. Butler (21.4 ppg) only appeared in four games in December, and they lost Adebayo (18.5 ppg, 9.9 rebounds) to a thumb injury and subsequent surgery.

Butler can be a beast when he needs to with enough scoring skills to drop 40 or 50 points a night. However, he thrives when he’s a playmaker and dishing the rock to his teammates.

“Jimmy can set up guys for easy baskets in a myriad of ways,” said head coach Eric Spoelstra. “It’s just a great luxury for us and he does a great job of finding our shooters in these random situations. He has a real instinct for that.”

Adebayo recently returned to the starting lineup after missing 25 games. Rookie Omer Yurtseven from Turkey stepped up when Adebayo went down. He impressed Spoelstra and earned a spot in the starting five. In early January, Yurtseven more than doubled his season average with 14.3 points and 13.9 rebounds per game, while knocking down 60% of his shots.

When Adebayo returned to the lineup last week, Yurtseven rejoined the second unit, which could outgun a lot of starting teams.

Tyler Hero: Sixth Man Vibes

Tyler Herro is the betting favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year. He’s the Heat’s second-best scorer averaging 20.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. He made a name for himself during his rookie season during the 2020 NBA playoffs in the NBA Bubble. Herro struggled in his second season and succumbed to the dreaded “sophomore slump”, but he bounced back in his third season.

Herro missed the last week of action after testing positive for COVID-19, but the Heat cannot wait for him to get back to the lineup. Spoelstra loves using him as instant office off the bench. He drew comparisons to Vinnie Johnson aka the Microwave from the Detroit Pistons because he only needed a few seconds to heat up.

Herro shot 40% from 3-point range earlier in the season and has dipped a bit in recent weeks, but he’s still one of their top snipers. Herro leads the Heat’s second unit that also includes Max Strus (11.6 ppg), Caleb Martin (9.7 ppg), Kyle Guy (6.9 ppg), and Yurtseven.

On Deck: Knicks, Clippers, Raptors

The Heat are in the middle of a four-game homestand. They picked off LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The New York Knicks come to South Beach on Wednesday, before they host a back-to-back this weekend against the LA Clippers and Toronto Raptors.

Next week, the Heat leave town for a six-game road trip with six games in 11 days against the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, and New Orleans Pelicans. The Spurs and Pelicans are not in the hunt for a playoff berth, but their four opponents from the east are all near the playoff bubble.

As a road team, the Heat are 14-12 straight up and 15-11 ATS.

The Heat are tough to beat at home with the third-best record in the league at 16-5. They’re also 13-8 ATS on their home court at the American Airlines Arena this season.

Overall, the Heat are 28-19 ATS and have the fifth-best betting record covering the spread in the NBA.

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