The NBA Playoffs continue as the Miami Heat (44-38) visit the Boston Celtics (57-25) for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals! Action tips off Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET. To get to the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami took down New York in six while Boston eliminated Philadelphia in seven. Below we continue our NBA odds series with a Heat-Celtics Game 1 prediction, pick, and how to watch.
Here are the Heat-Celtics NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Playoffs Odds: Heat-Celtics Odds
Miami Heat: +8 (-108)
Boston Celtics: -8 (-112)
Over: 210.5 (-110)
Under: 210.5 (-110)
How To Watch Heat vs. Celtics
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET/ 5:30 p.m. PT
*Find out how to watch Heat-Celtics LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Heat Could Cover The Spread
Miami continued their Cinderella run through the Eastern Conference thanks to their 4-2 series win over New York. That, coupled with their first-round win over the Bucks, propelled the Heat to their third Eastern Conference Finals in the last four years. They face a familiar foe this time around with a rematch from last year's Eastern Conference Finals on deck. Although the Celtics downed the Heat in seven games last season, this Miami team possesses a different kind of magic to them. Still, they visit Boston as eight-point underdogs in Game 1 and ESPN Analytics gives them just a 3% chance to win the series. Consequently, the Heat need to continue Jimmy Butler to continue playing at an MVP level and get some help from their guards if they want to cover.
Jimmy Butler has been nothing short of phenomenal in this playoffs. In 10 postseason games thus far, Butler averaged 31.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 5.4 APG. The 33-year-old exploded for 56 and 42-point games in their opening round over the Bucks before eclipsing 24 points in all but one game against the Knicks. He stands a strong chance of replicating those numbers in Game 1 against the Celtics. Butler averaged 21.5 PPG and 11 RPG in two regular-season games against the Celtics but it's last year's Eastern Conference Finals performance that gives me confidence in Butler's Game 1. Butler had an incredibly jackal-and-hyde series with through 35-point games but also three games with less than 15 points. That said, Butler notably dropped 41 in Game 1 at home and 47 in Game 6 on the road. Look for Jimmy Buckets to stay hot in Game 1.
For as good as Butler has been, the Heat would not be here if not for their guard play. While none of Gabe Vincent (11.5 PPG), Max Strus (10.9 PPG), or Kyle Lowry (10.1) have incredible numbers they've each proved essential to Miami's success. Lowry in particular proved to be a major part of last year's series with 18 and 15-point games to close out the series. However, it was Max Strus who stepped up in their series win over the Knicks. He averaged 14.7 PPG and eclipsed 14 points in each of their last five games. Gabe Vincent, too, could give Miami a major boost after he dropped 41 points in their first two road games last round.
Why The Celtics Could Cover The Spread
Boston battled back after falling behind 3-2 in Eastern Conference Semifinals against Philadelphia. They pulled out a huge road win in Game 6 before blowing the 76ers out of the door. Things don't get any easier this round, however. Boston meets Miami in the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons. Still, the Celtics stand as NBA championship favorites from both the betting market and analysts alike. That said, Boston needs their stars to show out and their shooters to dial in if they want to cover as huge favorites in Game 1.
Jayson Tatum looked like a fish out of water in the first three quarters of Game 6 against the 76ers. However, he exploded for 16 points in that fourth quarter and then carried his hot stretch into Game 7. The 25-year-old superstar set the Game 7 points record with 51 in their clinching win over the 76ers. Tatum should be able to carry that success into this Game 1 after he averaged 25 PPG and recorded five 26-point games against Miami last year.
The X-factor for the Celtics tonight is Al Horford. Boston's veteran leader struggled mightily in their series with the 76ers. He shot just 28% from three despite 5.7 attempts per game. That being said, he came out with a monster 20-point performance in the first home game against Miami last postseason – setting the stage for a bounceback in Game 1.
Final Heat-Celtics Prediction & Pick
Teams coming off a Game 7 the previous round are just 33-52 (36%) in Game 1 of the following series. Given Miami's familiarity with Boston and the Celtics' previous series, I like the Heat to keep things close in Game 1.
Final Heat-Celtics Prediction & Pick: Miami Heat +8 (-108)