The Boston Celtics guaranteed there would be a new NBA champion after dispatching the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday in Game 7 of that series. If the Celtics are going to reach their first NBA Finals since 2010 they will have to overcome the Miami Heat. Boston won two of three regular season meetings with Miami going 2-1 as an NBA pick against the spread. The Heat finished two games clear of Boston during the regular season to earn homecourt advantage and Miami is pegged as a 2-point favorite on the NBA betting board at SugarHouse sportsbook.
Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
Date and Time: Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: FTX Arena, Miami, FL
Opening NBA Odds: Heat -2, O/U 205.5
Celtics at Heat TV Coverage: ESPN
Facing elimination after giving away Game 5 of the Milwaukee series at home, the Celtics showed why they’ve been the best team in the NBA for the past several months. They won Game 6 on the road and finished off the series win with an impressive 109-81 win in Game 7 on Sunday. They could have folded after that disastrous end blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead. Instead the Celtics rallied behind Jayson Tatum for a pair of impressive wins setting up a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Final. Boston was a heavy favorite in that series eventually losing in six games. That should help them prep for this series with oddsmakers listing them as the NBA futures pick favorite to win the series. It’s been a good playoff run so far starting with a sweep of Brooklyn in the first round. The Celtics are 8-3 SU and a strong NBA pick against the spread going 7-3-1.
Miami is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA – they get no respect. They topped the East with 53 wins finishing two games better than Boston, Philadelphia and Milwaukee and still they weren’t expected to go far. They are the third NBA Finals pick out of the four remaining teams. That’s just fine with them since they’ve embraced the underdog role. Having homecourt advantage is a plus and the Heat have been deadly in South Beach. They led the East with a 29-12 home ledger during the season and they are perfect in the playoffs going 6-0 SU and 5-1 as an NBA betting pick. They’ve held teams to fewer than 100 points seven times this postseason with the UNDER going 9-2.
We don’t often see teams turn their season around like the Celtics did. Following an awful home loss to Portland at the end of January, they went on a massive heater winning 28 of their final 35 games secure the No. 2 seed in the conference. Not only did they have the best record in the NBA over that span they were a profitable group, too, going 23-12 as a NBA line pick. Doing everything well typically leads to success and the Celtics owned the top offense and defense in the league during their closing stretch.
We saw Boston get back to its roots as a defensive club. The Celtics led the league in several categories during the season holding opponents to 104.5 points per game and 43.4 percent from the field. Their three-point defense was stifling in the previous series punctuated by holding the Bucks to 4 of 33 from behind the arc in the decisive Game 7. Tatum was the ringleader but others stepped up when needed. Al Horford dropped 30 in a critical Game 4 road win that tied the series at 2-2.
It won’t mean as much as the series progresses, but having a few days off before Game 1 should benefit Miami. And they certainly earned it after taking out Philadelphia in six games in the second round. A big reason for that was the play of Jimmy Butler, who made it a point of sticking it to his former team. Butler scored 32 points in the clincher and is averaging 28.7 points in the playoffs, up over seven points per game from his season average.
Miami needs that kind of production since their offense as a whole has dropped off in the playoffs. The best three-point shooting team during the regular season at 38 percent, that number has fallen to 32.1 percent in the playoffs. They have made up for it by holding opponents to an average of under 100 points to lead all playoff teams. They’ve been a strong NBA odds pick against the UNDER playing below the closing total in nine of 11 playoff games.
Bet Celtics at Heat
I don’t know how much the Celtics have left after grueling series with the defending champs and a short turnaround to this matchup. The Heat are rested and they’ve been strong at home making me a believer. They may not win the series and prices at SugarHouse suggest that, but I do like Miami to draw first blood as my NBA daily pick.
NBA Score Prediction: Heat 107, Celtics 102