Kyrie Irving might be on the sidelines right now due to a right shoulder impingement, but he is also getting closer and closer to making his return. With that being said though, the Brooklyn Nets haven’t felt much of a negative impact thanks to Spencer Dinwiddie and the numbers he’s been putting up.
Irving will be out of action once again on Sunday, so the Nets are going to need more of that production when they host the Miami Heat at Barclays Center, especially considering the Heat are off to their hottest start since the LeBron James era.
The last time that Irving was in action was back on November 14 when Brooklyn would take on the Nuggets at Denver. Then, ‘Uncle Drew’ would hit eight of his 20 shots, compiling 17 points in a 101-93 defeat — the original injury would take place two nights prior against the Utah Jazz. Since the Nuggets game, Irving has missed eight contests. Under Dinwiddie’s leadership, however, the Nets have piled up a 6-2 record.
For the season, Dinwiddie is averaging a tally of 20.2 points-per-game, and without Irving on the floor, it actually notches up to 24.5 PPG. On Friday night in a 112-107 victory over the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn would hold the lead the majority of the game, and the main reason was Dinwiddie’s performance. In that game, he would put up 32 points off of 10-of-19 shooting, and he would also rack up 11 assists for a double-double.
“He’s more confident,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson would comment to the media about Dinwiddie, who is deep in the Nets system after signing a contract extension with the franchise last December.
“I always felt like with Spence, in the past, he didn’t know how good he was. You’d be surprised, as talented as he is, his confidence is growing. The kind of scenarios he’s in with running the team, I think that’s giving him more confidence. He’s playing as good as anybody in the NBA right now.”
That game on Friday, Dinwiddie’s best this season, would come on the same exact day when Atkinson would mention to the press that Irving has finally started playing basketball again, and that he’s possibly just one more game from being back in the starting lineup.
Another thing that made Friday night against the Celtics so special is that Dinwiddie’s performance would lead Brooklyn to their first win over a winning team since Irving has been out.
For the Miami Heat, they’re blazing hot (no pun intended) right now at a 13-5 record to begin the season. With that start, it’s their best since the 2013-14 campaign, which would be LeBron James’ final season in South Beach. At that time, Miami would also have a bit of a rivalry with the Nets, who were led by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at the time.
Here’s the problem for the Heat heading into tonight’s game, however: Even though they’re an undefeated 8-0 at home, they struggle a bit on the road carrying a .500 5-5 record. At Brooklyn, this is the kick off of a three-game road trip which includes visits to Boston and the Toronto Raptors after tonight. In their last two road games, they would take losses to the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers — both powers in the National Basketball Association.
“We’re still .500 on the road,” Heat guard Goran Dragic told the press. “We feel like the last few games, especially against playoff opponents, we need to do a better job. This road trip is going to be a really good test for us. We need to bring our A-game. It’s going to be good for us to see where we’re at.”
From November 12-22, the Miami Heat were on a dominant stretch winning five games in a row, and doing so by an average margin of 13.4 points. Since then, however, they’ve split their last four contests to go an even 2-2. Against the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Miami would top 120 points for a sixth time this year, and would do so after hitting 53.7% of their shots. From the three-point line, they would punch in 13 of their 25 shots. All of this would combine for a 122-105 victory over the once-powerful Warriors.
Against Golden State, six members from the Heat would hit double digits in scoring, with Dragic leading the way with 20 points. Even more impressive, their reserve unit would put up 70 points on the scoreboard, while Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson would hit 10 shots from the arc combined. As far as their star in Jimmy Butler, he would rack up 16 points. In Butler’s past three games, his shooting hasn’t been the best, only hitting 13 of 35 shots to accumulate a 37.1% success rate.
In the last seven games between the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat, the Nets hold the advantage with a 5-2 series lead. With that being said, tonight begins a new chapter, with the two squaring off for the first time since Dwyane Wade’s retirement. In the last game of Wade’s career against Brooklyn, he would go off for a triple-double, and would do so in New York City. Unfortunately for Wade, the Heat would take a 113-94 loss in that game.
So, Who’s Going to Win?
Against the spread, the road team is 10-4 in the last 15 games between Brooklyn and Miami. As previously mentioned, Miami isn’t the hottest right now winning just two out of their last four contests, while the Nets have been a bit steamy winning five out of their past six games — and this is with Kyrie Irving out of the picture. Needless to say, it looks like Brooklyn has finally gotten things together and are meeting the expectations that were put on them this season. Even if the Nets didn’t have Irving (or Durant for that matter), management and most pundits thought Brooklyn would deliver a good season — so far, so good.
All of that sounds good and everything, but you have to take the Heat in tonight’s game. Not only do they have the advantage against the spread in this series overall, but they’ve done really well ATS this season in particular. On top of that, Miami has a much better defense than Brooklyn, allowing an average of eight points-per-game less than the Nets do. The Heat might not be the most flashy on the road here in 2019-20, but I’ll take them for the win tonight in a tough battle to get their away record back over .500 at 6-5.