The Heat and Celtics tip off the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday in what projects as a tight series. Let’s breakdown both teams’ performances in the postseason, along with a look at their head-to-head matchups this season to give us an idea which side of the NBA picks we want to favor.
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Series Price: Miami (+110), Boston (-130)
Game 1 Price: Boston -1.5, Miami Moneyline (+100)
Game 1 Total: 209.5
How have the Heat performed in the postseason?
— The Heat are 8-1 straight up and against the spread in the playoffs.
— 4-0 ATS in a first-round sweep of Indiana.
— 4-1 ATS in a second-round win over Milwaukee.
— The under is 6-3 in the postseason, and the last over was an overtime loss in Game 4 vs. Milwaukee.
How have the Celtics performed in the postseason?
— The Celtics are 8-3 straight up and ATS in the playoffs.
— 3-1 ATS in a first-round sweep of Philadelphia.
— 5-2 ATS in second-round win over Toronto.
— The under is 9-2 in the postseason, and one of the two overs was the double-overtime Game 7 vs. Toronto.
Regular Season Matchups
Dec. 4: Miami (+5.5) at Boston (209)
Final Score: Miami 93, Boston 112
The Celtics easily covered at home, but both sides had key absences. The Heat were without Goran Dragic, who has been massive for them during this playoff run. It’s also worth noting that Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala were not acquired until the trade deadline, so they didn’t play in either of the two pre-bubble matchups. Gordon Hayward missed this game for the Celtics as he will Game 1 of the series. Marcus Smart was also sidelined, which could’ve been a factor in Jimmy Butler going off for 37 points. Boston’s defense kept this one just barely under on a low total, much like we’re seeing for Game 1 of the series.
Jan. 28: Boston (+1.5) at Miami (218.5)
Final Score: Boston 109, Miami 101
The Celtics went down to Miami and got the win as slight underdogs, even without Jayson Tatum. I wouldn’t read quite as much into Tatum’s absence, though, as Hayward stepped up and filled his role — 29 points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes. Smart played 36 minutes this time around and was the primary defender on Butler. Butler did go 10-for-12 from the free throw line to get to 20 points, but he shot just 5-of-14 from the field. Dragic also returned for this game and dropped 23 points in 30 minutes off the bench. The under easily cashed, up 9.5 points from the previous matchup.
Aug. 4 (In Bubble): Boston (-5) vs Miami (218)
Final Score: Boston 106, Miami 112
This is a tough one to put stock in, as Butler sat this game out, but the Heat got the outright upset. It does speak to how gritty this new Miami roster is, though, with Crowder and Iguodala stepping up. Boston had its full roster for this game, but Smart oddly fouled out in just 16 minutes. If anything, this game should be a wake-up call to the Celtics. Even though they have more talent, the Heat have a no-quit team that can hurt teams that sleep on them. With Butler off the floor and Smart only playing 16 minutes, we saw the highest-scoring game of the season between these teams, but it still pushed the total.
NBA Picks Analysis
The Celtics won the regular season series 2-1, going 2-1 against the spread in those games, while the total finished 0-2-1.
The Celtics should use Smart as the primary defender on Butler and have good alternatives in Tatum and Jaylen Brown to give extra minutes on him. The Raptors made a point of exposing Kemba Walker on defense in the previous round, which Miami could do with Dragic in this round.
Hayward’s status could give Boston a mid-series boost if he’s able to return from an ankle sprain he suffered back in the first game of the postseason. Don’t expect Hayward to make a major impact, but some minutes from him off the bench would be welcomed compared to Semi Ojeleye.
The season stats between these two teams are eerily similar, implying we should see a tight series. Two spectacular coaches should also lead to a lot of adjustments, so betting on the losing team to bounce back in the following game could be a decent strategy.
NBA Pick: Celtics in 7
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