After multiple players on Boston warned the Heat to “not let them get one” in Game 4, they did precisely that – the Celtics stole Game 4 in Miami and take the series back to Boston for Game 5.
With the Celtics starting to reclaim some of their momentum heading home, the Heat find themselves under some pressure for the first time this series, especially in the absence of Gabe Vincent on Thursday.
Because of the intensity surrounding this game, I expect the defensive pressure to increase and scoring, particularly for Miami, to be more challenging than it has at any point in this series.
HEAT VS. CELTICS BETTING ODDS
|Spread||+8 (-106)||-8 (-114)|
Odds and lines are accurate at the time of publication via FanDuel Sportsbook.
HEAT VS. CELTICS BEST BETS
Under 109.6 (1H) (-110, FanDuel)
In the four games so far in this series, we’ve seen first-half point totals of 123, 104, 107, and 106.
Game 1’s first half feels like an outlier, as the Celtics put up a gaudy 66 points. Despite being one of the best first-half teams in basketball this season, the Celtics have still only gone 57-48-4 against the first-half totals when accounting for the entirety of the regular season and playoffs up to this point. On the contrary, the Heat were the lowest-scoring team of the entire NBA regular season but still posted a 53-41-5 record against the first-half total in the season and playoffs to this point.
Despite the regular-season success for the Heat, I expect the first half to be a bit of a crawling race in this game. This series has been running at a pace of 96.5 points per 100 possessions (97.5 in the first half), with the Celtics holding a first-half offensive rating of 108.2 (brutal…).
On top of this, neither team’s effective field goal percentage has topped 60% in the first half while the Celtics have shot 33.8% from deep in first halves with both teams averaging out to post first-half totals of 110.0 per game.
The absence of Gabe Vincent is also a big one here for the Heat, as he’s been a steady source of offensive production (15+ points in three of four games) to take some additional pressure off of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. While Kyle Lowry has flashed this postseason, he doesn’t have the same offensive upside, which should make scoring a bit harder to come by.
With the Celtics’ backs against the wall, I expect them to limit Miami as much as they can defensively, while simultaneously having the elite defense of the Heat doing the same for Miami. I’m trusting the trend we’ve seen as the series has gone on and taking the first half under on Thursday.
Risk: 1.1 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit.
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