Game: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Odds: Heat +8, Celtics -8
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the second-seeded Boston Celtics (65-30, 53-41-1 ATS) and the eighth-seeded Miami Heat (53-42, 39-53-3) square off at TD Garden. Miami defeated the New York Knicks in six games while Boston defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games to advance.
Jimmy Butler cooled off after his hot start in the first round, but the Heat still defeated the Knicks in the conference semifinals in six games. Butler averaged 37.6 points per game in Miami’s stunning victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, but only 24.6 points per game versus New York.
The Heat, who were dead last in scoring during the regular season (109.5 points per game), have seen their pace go up this postseason, averaging 113.3 points per game to place eighth out of 16 playoff teams. Miami features six players on the active roster that average at least 10 points per game.
The Celtics finally defeated the Sixers after a long struggle thanks to a commanding 112-88 victory in Game 7. In the victory over Philly, Jayson Tatum scored 51 points, which is an NBA record for Game 7 scoring, while Joel Embiid, the current NBA MVP, only managed 15 points.
Tatum led Boston in scoring in five of the seven games against Philadelphia while averaging 29 points per game. Malcolm Brogdon averaged an effective 16 points in just 29 minutes a game off the bench, while Jaylen Brown contributed 22.9 points per game. Boston has won in five of its last eight games against Miami.
The Celtics and Heat have faced off in the East finals three times in the last four seasons. For the third time, a different Boston coach will be on the sidelines. Miami defeated Brad Stevens’ Boston squad in the 2020 East Finals in six games before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Ime Udoka-led Celtics eliminated the Heat in seven games last year before losing to the Golden State Warriors in the championship game.
Last season, Brown averaged 24.1 points per game against the Heat, barely under standout Jayson Tatum’s 25. When Butler is on the floor, the energy is always high. In the series versus Boston last year, he scored 25.6 points on average.
Miami and Boston split their four regular-season encounters. Each team split the two games on its home floor. Both teams have been hot as of late. Miami is 7-2 SU and ATS in its last nine games. Boston is 11-5 SU and ATS in its last 16 games and 11-3 SU in its last 14 at home.
The Over is the trend with both teams, despite both being among the best defensive teams in the NBA. Eight of Miami’s and Boston’s last 11 games have gone Over the total. The Over is 8-2 in the last ten meetings between the two teams played in Boston.
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