Anderson's Game 7 Betting Card: Is Miami Out of Gas?

Action Network analyst Brandon Anderson lays out his betting card for Heat vs. Celtics Game 7, including his series analysis.

Heat vs. Celtics Odds

8:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Celtics -7 | Total: 203.5

Well, we somehow made it to the two sweetest words in sports: Game Seven.

The Boston Celtics sit on the brink of history. Back from the dead down 0-3, back a second time from the dead down a point with one tenth of a second on the clock in Game 6 Saturday night before a Derrick White miracle.

What is dead may never die. And there is only one thing we say to death: not today.

Boston has already made history. Just three of 149 previous teams that went down 0-3 even forced a Game 7, and the Celtics are the first that will play its Game 7 at home.

This is the exact scenario we envisioned when we bet Jayson Tatum to win ECF MVP after Boston went down 0-3. The Celtics had the right profile to be the team to defy history. Now that +1200 ticket sits at -300, effectively a Game 7 moneyline ticket with mega +EV.

But none of this means a thing unless Boston finishes the job. Do the Celtics have one more win in the tank? Let’s get to my bets for Heat vs. Celtics Game 7.

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History, Finally, Favors the Celtics

For a week, Boston has had to defy history. Now, history swings dramatically in Boston’s favor.

For the first time ever, a team down 0-3 gets a chance to complete its comeback at home, and home court makes all the difference in Game 7.

Home teams are 110-33 SU all-time in Game 7s, a 76.9% win rate (excluding 2020). Teams fight all season for the right to host Game 7 for a reason — home teams win.

The Celtics are favored by 7.5, a huge spread for a Game 7. Favorites of five or more since 2003 are 34-9 SU (79.1%).

History says the larger the spread in Game 7, the more profitable it is to bet on the favorite. Since 2005, favorites of over three are 28-18 ATS, a 60.9% hit rate. Double-digit favorites are 2-0 ATS. The Celtics are the biggest Game 7 favorite in over a decade.

Don’t let a few anomalous Game 7s in recent years throw you; the sample size of league history is much more meaningful than a few wonky pandemic years.

History tells us home teams win and favorites win. It also tells us the Celtics win.

The Celtics are 27-9 (75%) in Game 7s. That’s 11 more wins than any other franchise. The Lakers are the only other team to even have more than seven. Boston is responsible for 18.4% of all Game 7 victories in the history of the NBA.

The Celtics are even better at home. Boston is 22-5 (81.5%) all-time in home Game 7s, a 67-win pace in a regular season.

These particular Celtics are pretty good in Game 7s, too.

Excluding the easier first round, five of Boston’s last six series wins came in a decisive Game 7. This Boston core is 6-1 in Game 7s. The Celtics have a knack for playing with their food, but they also have a knack for winning when it matters most. Al Horford is 7-2 lifetime in Game 7s.

But Boston’s no good at home, just 5-5 in the postseason!

Boston’s home Net Rating is +4.0 better than its road rating this postseason. The Celtics ranked second in the NBA at +10.1 Net at home in the regular season, a far more meaningful sample size.

But home teams keep losing when these teams play!

Nine times since 2011, the home team lost at least four times before Game 7, like here. The home team went 6-3 SU in Game 7 with all but one win by 11+ points, two by these very Celtics at home by 28 and 24 in the last year.

History is overwhelming on the matter of Game 7s.

Home teams win. Big favorites win. Boston wins. This Celtics core wins.

These 3 Boston Wins Have Been More Than Just Shot Variance

It’s easy but reductive to boil this entire series down to shot variance. Miami hit 44-of-92 3s through three games (48%), then plummeted to 17-of-55 the next two (31%). Boston hit 29% of its treys in those three losses, then went over 40% in both wins.

But then Game 6 happened.

Boston went ice cold from deep, hitting 7-of-35 for 20%, their worst shooting night of the season. Miami’s 3s kept them in it at 14-of-30 (47%). It was the 13th time this season the Heat hit at least 45% of its 3s — but only their second loss. So what happened?

What happened is this series has quietly turned into much more than just shot variance.

Boston has turned the tide in a variety of other ways, ways that helped the Celtics win a game that never should’ve even been close despite the massive negative gulf in shot variance.

Robert Williams was dropped from the starting lineup. His energy has been a spark off the bench, and his absence in the lineup made way for Derrick White. That’s added badly needed shooting, with White scorching hot all series, and provided extra spacing and handling.

It’s also meant a better version of Boston’s defense. Williams has dominated Kevin Love and Cody Zeller, while White’s ball pressure and size have helped Boston crank up its defensive intensity and swing the turnover battle. In the three Miami wins, the Heat won the turnover battle all three times by an average of +5. The Celtics have won two of three since by almost the same margin, a huge swing.

Boston is also making more of its 3s, getting into action earlier and getting better looks. The process has been better, in part because the whole machine is operating more smoothly on both ends.

Even when Boston’s shots weren’t falling in Game 6, the Celtics went up double digits multiple times and win that game comfortably in most scenarios. Why? Boston hit 63% of its 2s and held Miami to an awful 30% on 2s, dominating the paint.

That shows good process, an offense starting to figure a defense out, and a defense terrifying Miami players inside the arc.

The Heat have truly become a make-or-miss team. The Celtics are finding other ways to win now too.

Joe Mazzulla has rightfully taken plenty of heat for putting his team in losing positions, but he’s also made the right lineup and rotation adjustments just in time.

Boston in Game 6 looked like a team that had mostly figured Miami out — it was just disguised because the Heat were hitting every 3.

The Heat Won’t Quit, But They Might Be out of Answers

It’s difficult to imagine a team coming back from that final moment in Game 6. The 8-seed Heat were on the cusp of the Finals. As cameras showed Butler saying in the huddle, they only needed one stop. They got it — but it turned out they needed two.

Some teams roll over after a loss like that, but we shouldn’t expect that from Butler, Adebayo, and this strong Heat culture.

Miami isn’t going to quit. But the Heat might just be out of bodies and answers anyway.

Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo remain out. Kevin Love was a DNP-CD in Game 6. Cody Zeller played 141 seconds.

Gabe Vincent started after missing Game 5 and played 41 minutes on a bad ankle. He had no lift and went 3-of-12 on 2s, and he didn’t have his usual impact defensively.

Kyle Lowry remains a shell of what he once was. After a great half to start the series, Lowry has 27 points in 5.5 games since.

The Heat are running out of bodies.

Perhaps most importantly, the Jimmy Butler that dominated the Milwaukee Bucks in round one appears to be gone. He appears to be laboring on that bum ankle and shows little lift on his jumper and a total unwillingness to go up in the paint. How many times did Butler get the ball in the paint and pass it back out harmlessly? You’re forgiven if you wondered if you were watching Ben Simmons.

Butler scored 35 and 27 the first two Boston games after extra rest, making 48% of his shots. He’s averaging 20.8 PPG since on 37% from the field. He scored 13 in the final four minutes of Game 6 but was also 3-of-19 before that with 11 points on 16% shooting. He had 16 and 14 in Games 3 and 5. He’s just not attacking the rim or getting to that deadly pull-up jumper as often.

Butler is a warrior and may play every meaningful minute. But I’m just not sure he has anything left. This is a great SGP add on a Celtics win or cover for obvious correlation.

Bets: Butler under 28.5 points -110 (PointsBet) | Butler under 22.5 points +290 (Bet365)

If Miami’s Tank Is Empty, This Could Turn into a Coronation

If the Heat are truly out of answers and Butler has little left to give, I just don’t see a way back for Miami. I think the Heat emptied the tank in an all-out push for Game 6, and that might just be that.

When I wrote about Boston coming back from 0-3, I noted that oftentimes in sports, it’s darkest just before the dawn.

Celtics fans probably thought they hit the nadir down 0-3, but down a point with the season on the line and three seconds left of a game you’d dominated before missing 12 consecutive shots is another low altogether.

The Celtics were dead dead. One miracle tip-in later, they’re alive again.

Boston fans remember the 0-3 Red Sox comeback, with Dave Roberts playing the part of Derrick White, multiple late comebacks, and even a bloody sock. But do you remember what happened in Game 7? Boston had a two-run home run in the first inning, then a grand slam in the second, and the party was on en route to a 10-3 drubbing.

I mentioned my 2016 Cubs coming back from 3-1 in the World Series. Do you remember how Game 7 started out? Chicago hit a lead-off homer, the first ever in a Game 7, then added two more home runs and five more runs to tally six by the sixth inning.

The most recent hockey team to overcome an 0-3 deficit was the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. They won Game 7 by a score of 5-1.

These classic comebacks don’t always end in classics.

It took Boston longer than we thought, but the Celtics found answers. The defense is shutting things down inside the arc and creating turnovers leading to easy buckets. The offense is running more through its best player in Jayson Tatum, getting more handlers on the court, and finding better spacing.

I’ll nibble Tatum to lead the series in assists at +350. He has games with seven, eight, and 11 assists this series and the Celtics usually look their best when he’s dropping dimes to teammates. He’s only three behind Butler.

Mostly I want to bet Boston early. I think the Celtics come out in front of a raucous home Game 7 crowd and try to hit the knockout punch early, like in Game 5. The Celtics are No. 1 Net Rating in first halves this season at +9.2 and +15.0 Net Rating in home first halves this postseason, despite the 5-5 record.

When Boston is locked and loaded, we usually know right away.

Bets: Celtics 1H -3.5 (BetRivers) | Celtics 1H -9.5 +230 (PointsBet)

Bet the Celtics — Maybe in Multiple Ways

I felt confident about Boston against Philadelphia in Game 7 last round and bet them correctly multiple ways but eased off the alternate lines I was tempted to play. I’m even more confident here.

How is Boston -7.5 against whatever’s left of that Heat roster when the Celtics were -7 in Game 7 against Philadelphia just two weeks ago? The Philadelphia 76ers were a top-five title favorite and they’re half a point better than the 8-seed Heat that barely made the playoffs? I don’t buy it.

Give me the Celtics to win and cover.

I’ll also turn that Butler points under into an SGP with a Celtics double-digit win at +270, and give me Butler to score 25 or less with Boston winning by 15+ at +550.

And what the heck, it’s just such a pretty number: let’s nibble Celtics -26.5 at a perfect +1000 too.

Bets: Celtics by 10+ & Butler under 28.5 points +250 (Caesars) | Celtics by 15+ & Butler under 22.5 +750 (Bet365)

Bets: Celtics -7 (Caesars) | Celtics -26.5 +1100 (FanDuel)

Anderson’s Game 7 Betting Card

This is obviously all extremely correlated, so pick and choose if you like, split accordingly, or go all-in. Let’s get this Celtics party started.

  • Celtics -7
  • Celtics 1H -3.5
  • Celtics 1H -9.5 +230 (0.25 unit)
  • Celtics by 10 & Butler under 28.5 points +270 (0.5 unit)
  • Celtics by 15 & Butler under 22.5 points +750 (0.25 unit)
  • Celtics -26.5 +1000 (0.25 unit)