The Eastern Conference finals shifts to Boston with the series tied 1-1 and the Celtics riding some momentum into Game 3.
While the Celtics are back to full strength, the Heat have four players — Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, P.J. Tucker and Gabe Vincent — listed as questionable ahead of a crucial game.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a pick to skip ahead|
|Celtics Team Total|
|Game 3 Spread|
|Jimmy Butler Player Prop|
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
|Pick||Celtics Over 107.5 Points (-105)|
|Tipoff||8:30 p.m. ET|
Brandon Anderson: The Celtics have only lost one quarter so far this series — they got demolished in that Game 1 third quarter, thanks in part to tired Game 7 legs and down two starters.
With Marcus Smart and Al Horford back in the lineup, Boston looked like itself again — on both ends of the court. The defense was far better, but it’s no coincidence that the offense was much better too. Smart had 19 potential assists, driving into the teeth of the defense and hitting shooters, and boy did Boston’s shooters shoot.
The Celtics hit 20-of-40 3s, an absurd 50% from downtown, and the game was over before halftime with Boston dropping a monster 70-point half. We won’t get that again in Game 3, but I do expect Boston to keep scoring. And I expect them to win. Really, they won Game 2 twice — once by securing the win early, then a second time by securing the blowout and buying some much needed rest for Celtics starters after that long Milwaukee series.
Boston’s defense has traveled in nearly every game. That’s the Celtics’ constant. The variable is the offense, and when Boston hits enough shots and scores, the Celtics win. That’s why I’m playing the team total here as a substitute for the moneyline.
Boston has nine wins so far this postseason. They’ve scored at least 108 points in every single win, meaning the Celtics are 9-0 on this team total in wins. Boston is a big home favorite and looks the better team, and the Heat might well be without Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, or both. That leaves Miami’s defense vulnerable and it should mean Boston wins.
And when the Celtics win, they score. Give me that team total over.
|Pick||Celtics -6.5 (-105)|
Austin Wang: The Celtics look downright scary as they return home as 6.5-point favorites over the Heat, a 7.5-point move from the closing line in Game 2.
The Celtics’ hot shooting has continued into this series. They shot 20-of-40 from behind the arc in Game 2. More importantly, against a stellar defensive team, they took care of the ball and distributed it well, posting a 3.1 Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (28 assists and nine turnovers).
I’m not sure the Heat have a potent enough offense to keep up with the Celtics. They have a tendency to go on long scoring droughts. The Heat did not lose much this season, but when they did, it was on the road against the league’s best defensive teams. They were 9-13 (40.9%) straight up in road games where they faced a team with a better Defensive Efficiency than the season average, per the SDQL at Gimme the Dog.
In certain situational spots, betting the zig-zag theory is not always profitable. For instance, in Games 2-4, underdogs of four or more points off a series loss are 71-114-2 (38.4%) ATS since the 2012-2013 season, per the SDQL at Gimme The Dog. This is active to fade the Heat.
The spread may seem large, but I like that is right under the key number of seven, the most common margin of victory in the last decade of the NBA. My bet is on the Celtics, and I would bet this up to -7.
|Pick||Jimmy Butler Over 26.5 (-115)|
Tyler Schmidt: Jimmy Butler has taken his game to a whole new level during this postseason run. He is averaging 29.8 points per game, which ranks fourth most for the entire league. Butler also has a 30% usage rate during the postseason and he has averaged 32.2% usage rate per game in the two games in this series.
Butler’s stats are a major increase than what he was doing during the regular season where he averaged 21.4 points per game. No one on the Heat is averaging 14 or more points per game in the playoffs, so they have all relied on Butler’s ability to fill up the scoreboard, which he will continue to do tonight.
Butler has scored 27 or more points in five of his last six games. During that time he is averaging 33 points per game, which is well above this points prop. This certainly is not an easy matchup, but Butler is also averaging 14.9 drives per game. I would take this points prop up to 27.5 points. Love Butler tonight.