Heat vs. Celtics Preview: Heat To Grab Game 1

Miami and Boston meet in Game 1 at FTX Arena tonight, as the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference begin their battle for a trip to the NBA Finals.

And then there were two.

The Eastern Conference Finals is down to the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Miami ended the season for Philadelphia in six games with an impressive 99-90 road win. Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 32 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, allowing the No. 1 seed to enjoy five days off before playing tonight.

Boston earned a dominant 109-81 win over Milwaukee in Game 7, behind a barrage of three-pointers in the TD Garden. The Celtics shot 40% (22 of 55) from beyond the arc, while holding the Bucks to just 12.1% (4 of 33) from 3P range.

Boston won two of the three regular season meetings between these two teams, but Miami won the last matchup with both teams at full strength, 106-98. All signs point to an exciting series between two evenly-matched teams.

Here are my two picks for today’s Game 1 matchup between the Heat and Celtics.

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Heat vs. Celtics Betting Odds

Heat Celtics
Spread -1.5 +1.5
Moneyline -125 +105
Over/Under 204

*Lines accurate at the time of publication.

Heat vs. Celtics Tuesday Night Picks

Heat -1.5  (-110, DraftKings)

I’m backing the home team with a significant rest advantage in Game 1. Boston was pushed to the limit in the second round, even against a Bucks team without forward Khris Middleton. The Celtics are one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, but still struggled to stop Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was the first player in NBA history to tally 200 points, 100 rebounds, and 50 assists in a playoff series.

Historically, the Heat have a distinct betting advantage in this opening scenario.


Miami’s Jimmy Butler has been fantastic in this postseason, playing at a career-best level. Butler is averaging 28.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 5.4 APG while carrying shooting percentages of 52.5% FG, 36.4% 3P, and 80.8% from the free throw line.

Both teams enter this series with injury concerns. Boston’s Robert Williams is still returning from surgery for a torn meniscus. He was available for Game 7 against the Bucks, but did not play. For Miami, point guard Kyle Lowry has been ruled out for tonight due to a lingering hamstring injury. The Heat are deep enough at guard to overcome the absence of Lowry, with Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, and Duncan Robinson. The potential efficiency loss with Williams would be much more challenging to the Celtics who have to contend with dynamic Miami big man Bam Adebayo.

The Heat were one of the NBA’s best cover teams at home, currently at 26-21 (55.3%) against the spread. The Heat were also a perfect 4-0 ATS with four or more days off between games. While Boston is an impressive 8-3 (72.7%) ATS in the playoffs, but only 12-10 with a rest disadvantage.

This number is small enough that I’m simply focusing on the winner. I’m backing a Miami team that is a perfect 6-0 at home in the playoffs to cover the small number in Game 1.

Risk: 1.10 units on DraftKings to win 1 unit. (Bet up to -120)

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Heat-Celtics Under 204 (-110, DraftKings)

Miami and Boston both bring elite defenses into this matchup. The Celtics ranked first overall in defensive efficiency rating with the Heat finishing third. Both teams carry the same ranking in points allowed per game, limiting their opponents to under 97 PPG in the playoffs.

Two of the three regular season games between these teams hit the under this year, and I project another low-scoring game between two talented and closely-matched opponents. Both teams rank in the bottom seven in the NBA in pace, with Miami functioning at the second-slowest pace in the league, only ahead of Dallas.

I’m taking the under in a Game 1 battle that should feature limited position and high-level defense.

Risk: 1.10 units on DraftKings to win 1 unit. (Bet up to -120)

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