The Miami Heat continue to defy the odds as they head into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
Miami dispatched the New York Knicks in six games to advance to the Conference Finals, while the Celtics survived a seven-game marathon against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers to advance.
This will be the third time in the past four seasons that the Celtics and Heat have met in the East finals.
Boston enters the series as a huge -550 favourite and an 8.5-point favourite in Game 1. The total is set at 211 points.
Heat vs. Celtics odds
|Heat Moneyline Odds||+300|
|Celtics Moneyline Odds||-380|
|Over/Under||211 points (over -110, under +110)|
|Spread||Celtics -8.5 (-110)|
|Series odds||Celtics -550, Heat +425|
|Time/Date||Wednesday, May 17, 8:30 p.m. ET|
Stream: NBA League Pass
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The two teams split four regular-season meetings, with Miami taking the last two. They combined for a 2-2 over/under record in those contests.
|Date||Home Team||Spread Odds||Result||Total|
|Jan. 24, 2023||Miami||Heat -2.5||98-95 Heat||215 (under)|
|Dec. 2, 2022||Boston||Celtics -7||120-116 Heat (OT)||226.5 (over)|
|Nov. 30, 2022||Boston||Celtics -9.5||134-121 Celtics||225 (over)|
|Oct. 21, 2022||Miami||Celtics -2||111-104 Celtics||220.5 (under)|
About the Heat (9-4 SU, 9-4 ATS, 8-5 o/u)
Miami is just the second No. 8 seed to reach the conference finals round (New York also did it in 1999), and now the Heat will face a familiar foe.
Last spring, the Celtics prevailed in seven games over the Heat to earn a berth in The Finals against Golden State. These teams also squared off in the conference finals in 2020 (Orlando playoff bubble), and Miami prevailed in six games before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in The Finals.
At age 33, Heat star Jimmy Butler is still seeking his first NBA title, and he’s gone nuclear on a number of occasions in these playoffs. He went off for 56 points in a first-round win over the Milwaukee Bucks, which was the fourth most in an NBA playoff game. Jimmy Buckets is averaging an incredible 31.1 points on 52.7% shooting with 6.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.7 steals in these playoffs, but his production has slowed since sustaining an ankle injury in Game 1 against the Knicks in the second round. Butler is averaging 24.5 points on just 41.7% shooting since the injury setback. With five days to rest up in between series, it’ll be interesting to see if the ankle is still bothersome for Butler.
Perhaps the biggest question, though, is can the Heat get enough secondary scoring to support Butler? Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro sustained serious injuries in April, which at the time appeared to be a death sentence for Miami in these playoffs. However, Duncan Robinson has picked up the slack by shooting 42.6% from beyond the arc (he shot only 32.8% during from long range during the regular season). In fact, the Heat have outscored their opponents by 16.8 points per 100 possessions in 194 minutes with Robinson on the court this postseason, which is tops in the league for players that have averaged at least 10 minutes per game.
About the Celtics (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS, 8-5 o/u)
The Celtics have the shortest odds at +110 to win the NBA title after Jayson Tatum poured in the most points (51) in a Game 7 in NBA history against the 76ers. He shot 17-for-28 (60.7%) from the field, buried six deep balls on 10 attempts, and went 11-for-14 from the line in the lopsided victory.
Boston is getting offensive firepower from other sources, too. Jaylen Brown is averaging a career playoff-high 24.6 points on 54.7% shooting. He’s one of just two Celtics (Kevin McHale is the other – 1987-88) to average at least 24 points on 54% or better shooting in a single postseason.
Malcolm Brogdon has also been a potent weapon off the bench. The Celtics are outscoring their opponents by 11.4 points per 100 possessions in his 361 playoff minutes. Brogdon is launching from long range at 43.5% in these playoffs.
The Heat lost Oladipo (knee) and Herro (hand) in April and they’ll both be out for the entire series. Miami big man Cody Zeller is questionable with an illness.
Boston has no new injuries to report.
- The over is 8-1 in Miami’s last nine road games.
- The over is 5-1 in Boston’s last six games following a win.
- The Heat are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games.
- The Celtics are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 home games.
Player prop trends
- Max Strus has been hot for the Heat, averaging 16 points over his last five games. He’s scored at least 14 points in every game during that span and his line is 11.5 points (-120 over).
- Heat guard Gabe Vincent is passing the rock efficiently over his last eight games, averaging 4.6 assists. He has at least four assists in each game during that run and his line is 3.5 (-125 over).
- Celtics forward Al Horford has at least one steal in nine of his last 10 games and is averaging 1.5 per game during that span. His line is 0.5 (-165 over).
- Tatum has been a beast offensively for Boston, but he’s also quietly thriving in a defensive betting category. Tatum is averaging 3.2 steals + blocks over the last five games. His line is 1.5 (-190 over).
Wager to consider
- The Heat have covered the spread as sizable underdogs in a number of games this postseason (+9 in Game 1 against Milwaukee, +7.5 in Game 4 against the Bucks, +13 in Game 5 against the Bucks, +10 in Game 2 against New York), so taking Miami with the points (+8.5, -110) seems viable in an unpredictable Game 1.