The Eastern Conference Finals roll on, and the Miami Heat’s one-game lead over the Boston Celtics seems to be on shaky ground. The sharps are all over the Celtics tonight, and to win, Miami would have to do something no team has done to Boston all playoffs: hand them a second-consecutive loss.
1. Celtics -6.5 | -115 (.5u) at BetMGM
The Celtics should win and cover tonight. The Miami Heat won’t have Tyler Herro for Game 4, and several players—Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and P.J. Tucker—are questionable for the matchup. While I doubt most of them will sit, a missing or limited Jimmy Butler would be a huge blow for the Heat.
Butler leads all players in playoff WAR with +4.4. That ranks better than Luka Doncic (+3.3), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+3.0), and Stephen Curry (+2.6). Even if Butler plays tonight—which, at this point, I expect him to do—he may not reach the same level we’ve seen him reach earlier in the playoffs.
But even if Butler plays and is healthy, the Celtics have proven time and time again that they can win by big margins against good teams. All of Boston’s playoff wins against Milwaukee and Miami have come by at least eight points. They have a much more balanced roster than the Heat and the Bucks. That balance allowed them to control games from start to finish in both series, and I expect a similar outcome in Game 4.
2. Celtics / Under 208.5 | +125 (.5u) at FD Sportsbook
We’ll target a match/total parlay with our next half-unit. The Celtics should win and cover here, but I’d rather not put all my eggs in the 6.5-point spread basket because the Heat boast solid depth players.
Instead, most of the value of this bet stems from the total. The number for this game has collapsed from 208.5, where it opened, to 206 at FanDuel Sportsbook. Injuries deserve some of the credit for that movement, especially the news that Tyler Herro will sit this one out. Herro had been one of Miami’s best offensive contributors in the regular season.
Butler’s injury is the primary reason to target the Under. Even if he suits up and plays through it, the Heat have been so dependent upon him that I have deep concerns about their offense. His offensive RAPTOR rating of +11.3 leads Miami by a +8.8-point margin; none of Miami’s other contributors have offensive RAPTOR ratings above +2.5. Of Miami’s 12 lineups with at least 10 minutes in the playoffs, the four without Butler all rank in the bottom half for offensive efficiency. Further, most of Miami’s best depth players are defensive specialists, so more minutes for them would almost certainly mean less scoring.
2. PPD: Marcus Smart 5+ Rebounds/Boston to Win | +182 (.5u) at FD Sportsbook
Let’s get aggressive with our last half-unit. I expect sloppy shooting from both sides tonight, and that will create plenty of opportunities on the glass. At 6-foot-4, Marcus Smart should be able to capitalize over 6-foot Kyle Lowry and 6-foot-3 Gabe Vincent. Smart’s rebound rate (6.4%) significantly outranks Vincent’s (4.5%) but slightly trails Lowry’s (7.5%).
Smart went over this number back in Game 2. He recorded a whopping nine rebounds, one below his season-high. Though he averaged only 3.8 rebounds per game in the regular season, the uptick in minutes he has seen in the playoffs has helped him average 4.2 rebounds per playoff game. Smart has gone over this number in three of his last four.
Also, if you consider rebounds a hustle stat, Smart should have more gas in the tank than most of his Heat competitors. With Herro out and five other Heat players questionable heading into warmups—including Butler, who had to sit out the second half of Game 3—Smart’s own questionable tag feels less concerning.
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