Heat vs. Celtics Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
We’re getting a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics Wednesday, but these two teams have had much different starts to the season. The Celtics, sporting the best record in the NBA, have looked unstoppable. The Heat, currently tied for 10th in the East, have been average at best.
Can a dose of last season’s Conference finals wake the Heat from their early-season slumber? Let’s dive in and see where we can find some value in tonight’s matchup.
Shorthanded Heat Face Tough Matchup Offensively
Through roughly one quarter of the season, the Heat are just 10-11 and rank 17th in Adjusted Net Rating. Some (but certainly not all) of their slow start can be excused by the fact that their superstar Jimmy Butler has missed eight of their first 21 games.
The Heat have gone 3-3 over their past six games without Butler, but they haven’t exactly played a killer schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team with an above average in Adjusted Net Rating the Heat have played in that stretch and they lost by 26 in that game. Butler is out for this one and the Heat have seven players, including Tyler Herro, listed as questionable.
The Celtics do a great job of taking away the 3-point line, especially corner 3s. They allow the second-fewest corner-3 point attempts (5.7) and teams are shooting just 33.3% (third-lowest rate) on those shots, according to NBA Advanced Stats. This will be a problem for Miami’s offense as they rank third in corner 3-point rate on the season. The Celtics also do a great job of taking away the rim, ranking third in opponent rim rate.
With Jimmy Butler off the court, the Heat score just 104.0 points per 100 possessions (fourth percentile). They also rank in the third percentile in Effective Field Goal Percentage (48.6%) without Butler on the floor. This hasn’t been a very good offense without Butler and the Celtics are excellent at limiting the shots Miami is looking for on offense. I expect the Heat to have issues scoring tonight.
Celtics Reaching Unseen Heights on Offense
The Celtics offense has been historically good as they rank first in Adjusted Offensive Rating (121.9), 5.2 points better per 100 possessions than the next best offense (Utah Jazz). If they continue at this pace, they would easily be the greatest offense of all time. Their offense is heavily predicated on the 3s as well as they rank second in 3-point attempt rate (44.3%) this season.
This is a massive edge for Boston as Miami’s defense ranks dead-last in 3-point attempt rate allowed (40.4%). The Heat haven’t played an offense that ranks top-10 in 3-point rate since Nov. 4 (Indiana Pacers). Their defense is designed to take away the rim, but they will need to adjust and switch more if they want to prevent the Celtics from blowing them out with a barrage of 3s.
When these two teams met on Oct. 21, the Heat did a decent job of limiting the Celtics’ scoring output, holding them to 111 points by slowing the pace. The Celtics still shot the ball extremely well (60.8% eFG%) and managed to win by 11 on the road.
Boston also did a terrific job of forcing Miami into midrange shots as the Heat shot 37% of their attempts from that area of the floor. I expect this Celtics defense to replicate that strategy especially Butler out this time around.
I like the under here as these two teams are extremely familiar with each other. The first matchup between these two featured just 94 possessions. The game finished at 215, but the Celtics shot the ball extremely well. In that game, both offenses played over 80% of their possessions in the halfcourt and both exceeded a 30% Offensive Rebound Rate. Despite the woeful performance on the glass by both defenses, these teams managed to combine for just 215.
I mentioned before how much worse this Heat offense is without Butler, but I didn’t talk about how their defense has stepped up with him off the court. They rank in the 94th percentile of Defensive Rating, 80th percentile in Offensive Rebound Rate, and 90th percentile in FT Rate.
This Heat defense is solid and I expect them to do a relatively good job of slowing the Celtics’ offense down. Spoelstra is going to come into this game with the intention of keeping the pace down as that gives the Heat their best chance to win. Both of these teams already rank bottom-12 in Pace, but I think people are forgetting about the Celtics 18th ranked Pace due to their outlier 3-point shooting and overall dominant offense.
With Butler out and Jaylen Brown questionable, I expect this to be a slower half court game, so I am grabbing the under 224.5 in Boston on Wednesday night.