Heat vs Celtics: Bet Boston Against the Spread

Action Network contributor Chris Baker breaks down Heat vs Celtics, including betting picks for Friday's matchup.

Heat vs. Celtics Odds

Heat Odds +8
Celtics Odds -8
Moneyline +275 / -340
Over/Under 218
Time Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

NBA Friday brings us another heavyweight Eastern Conference matchup. And if you’re looking to bet Heat vs Celtics, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our Heat vs Celtics picks and prediction today, featuring a best bet against the spread.

Let’s dig in and get right to the Heat vs. Celtics prediction.

First off, make sure to shop around on this one. The Celtics were -7.5 overnight, when we were getting the best of the number. You can still get Celtics -8 at most sportsbooks, but there are some with Boston as 8.5-point favorites Friday afternoon.

Either way, we’re getting an Eastern Conference Finals rematch, though the Celtics have completely remade their team. Conversely, the Heat are essentially running it back with the same squad.

The Celtics covered in their opener, despite the Knicks taking 20 more shots, shooting 44% from 3 (Boston shot 30% from 3) and having fewer turnovers than the Celtics. The Celtics forced the Knicks to shoot just 32% on 2s.

Boston’s opener impressed me because it showed that the Celtics can win in a multitude of ways. Last year, the Celtics would have lost a game in which they shot just 30% from 3. In fact, they lost to the Knicks in all three of their games in which they shot sub-35% from 3. With the additions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, Boston can win games with its defense. That wasn’t always the case last year.

The Celtics are going to be a tough out every night and should perform well defensively against Miami’s offense. If Boston’s offense displayed one weakness against the Knicks, it was their defensive rebounding. The Celtics allowed the Knicks to rebound 34.4% of their misses (85th percentile). Fortunately, the Heat aren’t a great offensive rebounding team as they ranked just 19th in offensive rebound rate last season.

The Celtics will also have an edge on offense against a Heat defense that prioritizes taking away the rim and opts to give up tons of 3s. The Heat ranked 29th in 3-point attempt rate allowed last season. This should benefit the Celtics, a team that ranked second in offensive 3-point attempt rate last year.

I was unable to watch Miami’s opener, but a glance at the advanced statistics didn’t impress me. The Heat took 48% of their shots from mid-range and attempted just 22% of their shots from 3. Their shot profile was unimpressive and that may not be an issue against the worst team in the NBA, but it will be against the Celtics.

It’s going to be mathematically hard to compete with Boston while attempting just 22 3s. I’m also concerned about the number of Miami defenders Boston could pick on. The Celtics primary six-man lineup consists of guys who are all above-average defenders. The Heat are pretty much devoid of good individual defenders outside of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Caleb Martin.

The Celtics are going to pick on guys like Tyler Herro, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson throughout the game. Those guys also won’t have Adebayo under the rim to cover up their mistakes as he’ll likely be out on the perimeter guarding Porzingis. I fear the Heat don’t have the athleticism and defensive talent to effectively matchup here.

Heat vs Celtics Picks, Odds

If you couldn’t tell already, I have a strong lean toward the Celtics on the spread. Boston has multiple edges on the floor and also possesses the motivational edge after losing to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Motivation isn’t something I put much weight into, but it’s certainly a small factor and I expect the Celtics to be on their A-game.

Pick: Celtics -7.5 | Lean Celtics -8