Boston has punched its ticket to a second consecutive Eastern Conference finals, and now the matchup is set, it’s Heat vs. Celtics for a trip to the NBA Finals.
Stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have paved the way for the Celtics’ success during the playoffs. Against the 76ers, Tatum scored an NBA Game 7-record 51 points, and Brown is averaging 24.6 points per game. The Celtics are the current favorites to win the NBA title at +100 at FOX Bet.
Boston is facing an unlikely opponent in Miami. The Heat have blazed through the postseason, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games and the New York Knicks in six. Miami — led by Jimmy “Buckets” Butler — was able to wreak all this havoc on the NBA in the East as an eighth seed. The Heat currently have the fourth-best odds to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy at +1400.
Will Miami keep up the hot streak? Or will the Celtics cool down Butler & Co.? Here’s a look at the series from a betting perspective, with odds at FOX Bet:
Heat at Celtics, 8: 30 p.m. ET Friday, TNT (Game 2)
Point spread: Celtics -11 (Celtics favored to win by more than 11 points, otherwise Heat cover)
Moneyline: Celtics -556 favorites to win (bet $10 to win $11.80 total); Heat +333 underdogs to win (bet $10 to win $43.30 total)
Total scoring over/under: 214.5 points scored by both teams combined
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Celtics: -227 (bet $10 to win $14.41 total)
Heat: +180 (bet $10 to win $28 total)
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Schedule and scores for the series (all times 8: 30 p.m. ET, TV TNT):
Game 1: Heat 123, Celtics 116
Game 2: Heat at Celtics, Friday
Game 3: Celtics at Heat, Sunday
Game 4: Celtics at Heat, Tuesday
Game 5: Heat at Celtics, May 25 *
Game 6: Celtics at Heat, May 27 *
Game 7: Heat at Celtics, May 29 *
= if necessary
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Pick via FOX Sports Betting Analyst Jason McIntyre:
We get another bubble rematch! This is the third time the two have met in the playoffs in the last four years. Miami is significantly outmanned here, with Tyler Herro not expected to play in the series. Yes, Miami had six players average double figures against the Knicks, but keeping up with New York’s meek offense is one thing. Boston, on the other hand, is an offensive juggernaut. Yes, the Celtics were pushed to seven games by Philadelphia, but two of those games were fortunate last-minute wins for the 76ers. That series should have never gone seven.
I can see a scenario where Boston wipes the floor with Miami in five, and a sweep isn’t out of the question, either. The problem, of course, is that Jimmy Butler is the most clutch player on the court — apologies to my favorite Celtics player of all time, Jayson Tatum. I loathe betting against him.
But can anyone other than Butler step up for Miami? Is Duncan Robinson playable? What can you expect from 36-year-old Kyle Lowry? Heat Culture is a wonderful thing, but Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent aren’t going to be getting the wide-open looks they got against the Knicks because Boston won’t need to double anyone. Marcus Smart is a capable defender on Butler. The Al Horford plus Robert Williams combo that shut down Joel Embiid in the final two games will be formidable against Kevin Love and Bam Adebayo.
Miami’s had a great run, taking down Giannis Antetokounmpo and then Jalen Brunson, but Boston will be the most complete team the Heat have faced. Miami has a big coaching advantage with Erik Spoelstra, but he doesn’t have the wing defenders to hang with Jaylen Brown.
In two of their three wins last year in the playoffs against Boston, Butler scored 41 points and 47 points. That’s a heavy burden for him again, especially given the ankle injury against New York.
I’m going with the Celtics to win this series in five.
PICK: Celtics to win series 4-1 (+210 at FOX Bet, bet $10 to win $31 total)
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