Miami (63-33 SU, 55-40-1 ATS) can take a 3-1 stranglehold on the Eastern Conference Final with a victory tonight, but Boston (60-36, 52-42-2) has covered each of its last five games following a SU loss. The Celtics opened as 6.5-point favorites, the most points they’ve laid against the Heat in more than three years.
Heat vs Celtics Odds & Analysis
Despite Miami’s upset win in Game 3, oddsmakers opened Boston as a bigger favorite tonight than the Celts were on Saturday night. You’d have to go back more than three years to find a game in which Boston was favored by more than 6.5 points over Miami. Sportsbooks also don’t seem concerned that OVER could be a popular Heat vs Celtics prediction after each of the first three games eclipsed the total, setting the Over/Under just a half-point higher than Game 3.
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Heat’s Depth Being Tested With Butler, Lowry, Other Key Players Battling Injuries
Injuries are a huge concern for Miami these days with Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Tyler Herro and Max Strus all battling various ailments that have them listed as questionable for Game 4. Butler may be the most in jeopardy of missing tonight’s contest after sitting out the entire second half on Saturday with knee soreness, while Herro missed the final eight minutes of Game 3 with an apparent quad injury.
Lowry saw 29 minutes of action Saturday after missing eight of his previous 10 games with hamstring tightness, while Tucker (knee) and Strus (hamstring) started Game 3 and should be good to go again tonight. With so many of the Heat regulars banged up, Bam Adebayo played a larger role in the Miami offense on Saturday, racking up 31 points and 10 rebounds while adding six assists.
Cutting Down On Turnovers A Focus For Boston Going Into Pivotal Game 4
Boston has its share of bumps and bruises as well, most notably to starters Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III. Tatum suffered a shoulder injury late in Game 3, although coach Ime Udoka has since called it a stinger and expects Tatum will be fine for tonight. Smart could be another story after rolling his ankle, an injury that could potentially keep the Defensive Player of the Year out of the lineup tonight.
Williams’ status is also up in the air after the center had to sit out Saturday’s contest with knee soreness, the fifth time he’s been scratched in Boston’s last seven contests. Although Daniel Theis started in Williams’ place, Grant Williams saw most of the action in place of Robert, playing 39 minutes off the bench.
Jaylen Brown led all scorers Saturday with 40 points, but he and Tatum combined to commit 13 of Boston’s playoff-high 24 turnovers. The Celtics need to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball tonight after allowing the Heat to attempt 22 more field goals than they did on Saturday night.
Heat vs Celtics Pick & Insights
Heat: Keys to Cover
Miami is just 15-10 SU this season without Butler in the lineup, so make sure to check on Jimmy Buckets’ status before making your Heat vs Celtics prediction. The Heat also relish the role of the underdog, going 19-8 ATS in their last 27 games in which they’ve been catching points.
Celtics: Keys to Cover
A big key to Boston’s 13-5 ATS run in its last 18 games has been the Celtics’ ability to bounce back from losses. Boston has covered each of its last five games following a SU defeat and will throw everything it has at the Heat tonight to avoid being down 3-1 in the series when it heads back to Miami.
NBA Computer Pick: Heat +6.5
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Odds Shark Staff Thu, Jun 23, 2:13pm