Game: Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Celtics +1.5, Heat -1.5
It all worked out as planned in the Eastern Conference. The No. 1 seed, Miami, will face the No. 2 seed Boston in the conference finals. Tonight, the Heat host Boston in Game 1. Miami had a few extra days off as they took care of Philadelphia in six games. Boston found itself down 3-2 to defending champion Milwaukee but came back to win Games 6 and 7 to advance.
It will be two of the best defensive teams in the NBA in this series. Miami is a slight favorite at home in Game 1, but Boston is actually favored to win the series. Boston has the better 1-2 scoring punch in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Miami has better depth. That’s why the Heat have been able to navigate the postseason through some injuries, specifically to Kyle Lowry. The Heat guard will be out for Game 1, which makes Jimmy Butler even more of a key for Miami.
With Butler on the floor, Miami’s offensive rating is 120.1 and its defensive rating is 103.9. Those numbers pale in comparison to the 104.4 and 108.1 without him. That gives Miami a net rating of +16.2. Butler had a 40-point game and two more 30-point games against the Sixers. He averages 21.4 points per game and makes Miami’s offense and defense better. He has yet to see perimeter defenders like Boston though.
Miami was also the best three-point shooting team in the NBA during the regular season. The Heat hasn’t shot that well from behind the arc during the postseason, but they have still managed to beat Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Heat’s defense during the postseason is what got them here. Miami is allowing just 97.5 points per game during the playoffs so far.
On Feb. 1, Boston was sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics defense then took over and turned it all around for Boston. The Celtics are first in points allowed per game and defensive efficiency. Of the remaining teams in the playoffs, Boston is allowing the second-fewest points (101.8 ppg).
In the regular season, Boston beat Miami in two of three games. The winning team held the loser to fewer than 100 points in each game. Boston is now 12-4 SU in its last 16 games and 5-1 ATS in its last six. The Celtics are also 9-0 ATS in their last nine road games.
The Heat is 14-4 SU and 13-5 ATS in its last 18 games. Miami has won nine straight home games. What’s interesting is that Miami is 6-13 ATS in its last 19 games against Boston at home. Nine of the Heat’s last 11 games have gone Under the total. Boston is also trending Under with five of the last seven going Under the total. In the last ten games between these two teams, the Over is 7-3. Since April 1, only two games have gone Over the total at FTX Arena in Miami.