Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tips off on Wednesday, as we’re treated to the same matchup that we’ve seen in three of the last four seasons between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
These teams have played each other rather evenly over the last handful of years, with the Heat advancing to the NBA Finals in 2020, the Celtics getting the better of them last season (2022), and then splitting the season series two games apiece in the 2022-23 regular season.
With these teams playing each other so evenly, you’d think we’d have a tighter spread than 8.5 points, but with how the Celtics looked on Sunday against the Sixers, the market seems to have a ton of faith in them handling the Heat on Wednesday.
I broke down why I don’t think we should slow down a bit below.
HEAT VS. CELTICS BETTING ODDS
|Spread||+8.5 (-105)||-8.5 (-115)|
Odds and lines are accurate at the time of publication via DraftKings Sportsbook.
HEAT VS. CELTICS BEST BETS
Heat +8.5 (-105, DraftKings)
Of all 16 teams that made the playoffs this season, no team comes close to the success that the Miami Heat have had against the spread (ATS). Not only does their 8-3-0 (72.7% cover rate) top the league, their ATS plus/minus of +8.0 illustrates just how dominant they’ve been against the spread.
Miami’s defense has been a driver for them during the postseason (despite having the No. 5 postseason offense), as they’ve ranked first in terms of least at-rim points per game allowed after ranking first in the same metric during the regular season. This should help them limit production off drives from players like Jaylen Brown as well as prevent put-back opportunities from Robert Williams and Al Horford.
Where the Heat will have to buckle down is on the perimeter. 40.9% of attempts against Miami this postseason have come from beyond the arc and with Boston shooting over 40% from three during the playoffs, it’s going to be imperative that the Heat limit outside production as much as possible. If the Celtics start off cold from three, the Heat could be sitting pretty. With Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler having time to rest and scout, this will likely be the approach they’ve prepared.
We might not see a wider spread in the series and Game 1 could open the door for Miami to blitz Boston out of the gate, as we’ve seen them have success against the Celtics twice already this season. Even without Tyler Herro, I trust the coaching on the Miami side to outcoach the Celtics by a wide margin and, at the very least, keep this competitive enough to cover in Game 1.
Risk: 1.05 units on DraftKings to win 1 unit.
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