Game: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Heat +8.5, Celtics -8.5
The Boston Celtics have a lot of things in their favor tonight as they face the Miami Heat in what could be the deciding game of their Eastern Conference finals series. Remember, Game 5 winners in the NBA playoffs win their series 82 percent of the time. Golden State just became another as they beat Dallas in Game 5 and won Game 6 last night to win the Western Conference finals.
Boston is also 49-19 in potential series closeout games. That’s a 71 percent winning percentage and they are playing at home where Boston is 33-16 for the season and 13-5 in their last 18 games. After a dominating 93-80 win over the Heat in Game 5, it appears that Boston has the edge. Oddsmakers think so too having installed the Celtics as 8.5-point favorites tonight.
It’s almost hard to believe that Boston has averaged just 99 points per game over their last three. Then again, Miami is one of the top three defenses in the NBA. If you hadn’t been watching the series, you might find it hard to believe Boston won two of the last three games. It was all defense. The Celtics held Miami to just 90 points over those same three games.
The big problem for Miami is they just haven’t been able to get shots to fall. The Heat is shooting 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range. This is a Miami team that led the NBA in three-point field goal percentage for much of the regular season. Jimmy Butler, the Heat’s leading scorer, has scored 19 points in the last two games combined. Over those two games, he has made 7-of-32 shots.
As a result of Boston’s defense and Miami’s struggles on offense, the Celtics are favored by 8.5. It may seem like a lot to lay in a potential elimination game, but Boston’s margins of victory in this series beg to differ. Only one game in this entire series has been decided by fewer than 10 points. In Boston’s three wins, the Celtics’ average margin of victory is 17.6 points. Plus, Boston is 15-5 ATS in its last 20 games.
Miami has actually covered in 11 of its last 15 games they have played on the road against Boston. However, the Heat has failed to cover in three of the last four games in the series. Miami is still banged up and has five players listed on tonight’s injury report. All five are expected to play.
Miami has scored in the 80s in each of the last two games. As a result, tonight’s total of 201 is the lowest of the series. In those last two games, Miami has totaled 80 and 82 points on 32 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent shooting from three-point range. It’s no wonder the Under has hit in 11 of Miami’s last 16 games. The Under is also 5-2 in Miami’s last seven games on the road.