Stephen Nover Free Friday Play

On February 19, 2016, in Free Picks, NBA, by Stephen

Heat plus 9 1/2 at Hawks

Let’s get something straight here. Even though the Heat won’t have Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, who is suspended for this one game, they aren’t the 76ers or Suns. Yet that’s the way the oddsmaker has priced this game.

The Heat rank No. 2 in the NBA in defense permitting 96.3 points a game. They still have a rested Dwayne Wade, who has been playing well the past nine games. Miami has gone 6-3 in those games and needs this game very much trailing Atlanta by one game for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

OK, so what do the Heat do minus Bosh and his team-leading 19.1 points per game? Veteran Luol Deng and promising rookie Justise Winslow can pick up the slack.

OK, how about no Whiteside then? The Heat didn’t have Whiteside against the Hawks when the teams last met on Jan. 31 in Miami. The Heat had no problem beating the Hawks, 105-87. Veteran Amar’e Stoudemire filled in well for Whiteside scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a little more than 21 minutes. Stoudemire is 33, but still can be effective with adequate rest. The Heat last played 10 days ago.

Miami’s strength was having a surplus of big men. They still have Stoudemire, Udonis Haslem and Josh McRoberts. The Hawks’ major weakness is rebounding. Kyle Korver has turned back into a pumpkin and the other Hawks All-Stars from a year ago are having down performances compared to last season. Atlanta’s bench also is weaker than from a year ago.

If this were last season’s Hawks, I could see this spread. But not this season. This is a key division game for the Heat. They have the depth and proven big-game veteran toughness to step up in this spot especially having ample rest.

(Stephen Nover is a documented 33-13 on his last 46 premium and free NBA plays and has his NBA Total of the Month going today in addition to this free selection.)


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