New Year's Day NBA Action: Heat @ Mavericks
Betting South Beach Boys Bring the Heat in Jimmy Buckets' Return: Miami +1.5
The addition of Jimmy Butler to the Heat roster last season elevated Miami from 'also ran' status to surprise title contender. Consider that, after the Heat missed the playoffs entirely a year earlier, FiveThirtyEight models estimated a negligible 2-3% chance of the Miami making the NBA Finals at the start of the 2019-20 season.
Further, by the start of the post-season, despite Miami winning 60% of their regular season games versus an expected 50% win rate, FiveThirtyEight's forecast probability of the Heat earning a Finals berth improved to a still nominal 8-12%.
As we know, however unlikely, Miami managed 14 of the requisite 16 post-season wins needed to trigger the champagne showers, but fell to the Lebron James and Anthony Davis-powered Lakers, 4-2, in the deciding playoff series.
Given the undeniable and most unexpected performance boost the Heat enjoyed after his addition, it does not appear hyperbolic to say that Jimmy Butler is a game changer. The 10th year forward was good for better then seven wins last season, and about 3 spread points per 100 possessions, per ESPN's real plus-minus statistic (making Butler the fifth most valuable player at his position and 23rd overall in the League...for context, by RPM, Butler ranks ahead of household names like Paul George and even Anthony Davis).
As good news for the Miami faithful, Jimmy Buckets is probable Friday, after missing the previous two-and-a-half games with ankle stiffness. We like the road team's chances here and are getting down on Miami for the cover.
Inline with our thinking, we note that fading home teams playing outside their division after a loss has been an extremely profitable early season strategy when the participating teams each made a playoff appearance the year before.
The profitability of this system might owe to a short-term momentum effect.
But whatever the reason, the unwavering consistency of historical profits warrants paying attention. Back to 2005, this system has lost money in only two seasons, and is off to a 4-2 ATS start this year.