Boston (62-36 SU, 54-42-2) is a huge favorite tonight to eliminate Miami (63-35, 55-42-1) and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. The Celtics opened as 9-point chalk in Game 6, the most they’ve been favored by over Miami in more than five years.
Heat vs Celtics Odds & Analysis
After seeing Boston outscore the Heat by 33 points in the last two games, oddsmakers opened tonight’s spread at a series-high 9 points. The Celtics haven’t been double-digit chalk against Miami since 2008, but that may not stop bettors from backing Boston in their Heat vs Celtics predictions. Each of Boston’s last seven victories in these playoffs have come by at least eight points, and the last five by 13 or more.
Heat’s Three-Point Shooting Has Suddenly Gone Cold In Eastern Conference Finals
Miami lived by the three-point shot during the regular season, leading the NBA with a 38% percentage from behind the arc, but the Heat are now dying by it in the Eastern Conference finals. After missing 38 of their 45 attempts from distance in Game 5, the Heat are just 29% on treys in this series.
Will things suddenly get better tonight? Miami’s injury report doesn’t give much reason for optimism. Sharpshooter Tyler Herro was listed as questionable at the time of writing with a groin injury that has sidelined him for the last two games, while P.J. Tucker is still dealing with a sore knee and Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent are all battling hamstring issues.
Jimmy Butler wasn’t listed on the injury report, but he’s failed to score 11 points in any of his last three games after averaging 35 in Game 1 and 2, clearly slowed by a sore knee. Butler is seven-of-32 from the field in his last two outings, while Lowry, Strus and Victor Oladipo combined to miss 21 of their 22 field goals in Game 5.
Boston Has Dominated This Series When It Hasn’t Been Giving The Ball Away
Although the Celtics have two chances to finish off the Heat and advance to the NBA Finals, they say they’re determined to get the job done tonight. “We can’t think that it’s over with,” Jayson Tatum told the Associated Press, noting how Boston rallied from a 3-2 series deficit last round against Milwaukee. “We need to go back home like we’re down 3-2. With that sense of urgency that it’s a must-win game.”
Urgency aside, Boston’s chances of closing out the series tonight may ultimately depend on how well the Celtics take care of the ball. Boston committed 10 first-half turnovers in Game 5 and entered the intermission down by five points, but then gave the ball away just five times the rest of the way to pull away for a comfortable victory. In this series, Boston is averaging 20 turnovers in its two losses and just 11 in its three wins.
The Celtics might not be at full strength tonight, however, as center Robert Williams (knee soreness) and guard Marcus Smart (ankle sprain) were both listed as questionable at the time of writing. Each played through their injuries on Wednesday, logging 27 and 24 minutes, respectively.
Heat vs Celtics Pick & Insights
Heat: Keys To Cover
You can be sure that effort won’t be an issue for a proud Miami squad that has covered seven of its last eight following a double-digit loss at home and is playing for its postseason lives. The Heat’s shooting could also be primed for some positive regression after back-to-back ugly performances from the field in Games 4 and 5.
Celtics: Keys To Cover
A strong start could break the spirit of the demoralized Heat, so a play on the Celtics first quarter point spread might be a Heat vs Celtics prediction worth considering. If Boston can limit its turnovers to prevent Miami from getting easy baskets in transition, the Celtics have a great chance of stamping their ticket to the NBA Finals.
NBA Computer Pick: Heat +8.5
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Odds Shark Staff Thu, Jun 23, 2:13pm