Saturday NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Celtics vs. Heat Game 3 (Sept. 19)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.
- The Boston Celtics find themselves in a must-win spot against the surging Miami Heat.
- Should you back the Celtics for a big bounce-back win, or is there value elsewhere?
- Joe Dellera previews Saturday's Eastern Conference finals matchup and shares his picks below.
Celtics vs. Heat Game 3 Betting Odds
|Celtics Odds||-3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Heat Odds||+3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-158/+134 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||207.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
The Miami Heat look to continue their improbable run through the Eastern Conference and build upon their 2-0 series lead. Can the Celtics pull out a win in this must-win Game 3?
Gordon Hayward was listed as doubtful for Game 2 (stay up to date on his status here), but if he plays it would inject invaluable ball handling, shooting, and spacing into the Celtics lineup.
Following Game 2’s collapse, the Celtics had a shouting match in the locker room and the main players seemed to be Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s certainly understandable why the C’s were frustrated after another second-half collapse. Whether they can harness that passion and execute in Game 3 remains to be seen.
The Celtics could easily be up 2-0 in this series, but when they have jumped out to a big lead, they’ve slacked off and lowered their intensity. More importantly, once the Celtics back off, they have trouble re-asserting themselves.
For example, the Celtic’s turned the ball over on multiple inbounds plays, which immediately resulted in quick points for the Heat. Those were just a few of the possessions that ended in turnovers for the Celtics. In fact, the Celtics turned the ball over on 21.5% of their possessions! That is a mind boggling number.
3 STEALS in the final 4 MINUTES of Game 2 for @JimmyButler! 🔒🔒🔒
ECF Game 3 ⏩ Saturday, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN pic.twitter.com/PsRi1KV48g
— NBA (@NBA) September 18, 2020
However, it’s also a testament to the concentration and effort of both the Celtics and Heat. The Heat don’t take any plays off. On the other hand, the Celtics, who had the sixth-best turnover rate in the regular season (13.6%, per Cleaning the Glass), took several plays off and were roasted by the Heat.
If the Celtics limit their turnovers, they can win these next few games. They actually improved their eFG% from Game 1 to Game 2 as they posted a 57.7% mark and Kemba Walker showed signs of life offensively.
But in order to improve, they need to figure out the Heat’s zone. Spoelstra did something interesting, by playing two of his smaller players on the bottom of the 2-3 zone (Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, or Duncan Robinson) and then left Bam Adebayo in the paint. This allowed him to position Jimmy Butler at the top of the key with Jae Crowder. Butler has been able to cover and contest what would traditionally be open shots at the top of the zone.
The best counter to this is to get Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown on the wing and drive baseline against the smaller players to force them into foul trouble. We will see if head coach Brad Stevens is able to make the adjustments.
Butler and the Heat can smell blood in the water. They know they have the Celtics spiraling and I expect them to keep up their intensity.
Besides Butler, there are two other players that need to be discussed: Dragic and Robinson. Dragic has been incredible and has kept Walker on his heels, while averaging 27 points this series.
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Robinson missed much of Game 1 due to foul trouble, but his presence was felt in Game 2 — he shot 6-of-12 from 3-point range and avoided taking any 2s. His release is lightning quick, reminiscent of watching Klay Thompson drill 3’s while barely touching the ball.
What the Heat are doing offensively is repeatable. They have a 54.3% eFG% which is just 0.1 percentage points below their expected eFG%, per Cleaning the Glass. While they regressed a bit from their Game 1 totals, if they maintain a 38% shooting percentage from 3-point range the Heat will continue to put up points.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think the Celtics take a step forward as a team and win this game. They’re too talented to drop to 0-3 and I think the locker room fight might have just been enough to light a fire in their eyes. However, they should not be listed as favorites at this point and I’m not willing to lay the extra vig on the moneyline.
Instead, I’m turning to the total, which feels too low. It opened at 206 and is now at 206.5. The total in the first two games of this series were set at 208 and 209.5. The over/under is split 1-1 in those games, and even though Game 1 went to overtime, the over still hit in regulation.
During these two games, the teams are averaging 231.25 combined points per 100 possessions while playing to a Pace of 91.72, per Cleaning the Glass and NBA Advanced stats. This total doesn’t account for their efficiency, only that they see fewer possessions.
The Pick: Over 206 (Play up to 208.5)