Tuesday NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Heat vs. Celtics Game 1 Betting Preview (Sept. 15)
David Sherman/Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum.
- The Celtics are a short favorite over the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Joe Dellera is betting the under on Tuesday night, banking on the defensive issues that Boston presents in this matchup to come through early.
- Get his full Celtics-Heat breakdown below.
Heat vs. Celtics Game 1 Odds
|Heat Odds||+1.5 [BET NOW]|
|Celtics Odds||-1.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+102/-120 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||209.5 (-112/-109) [BET NOW]|
|Time||6:40 p.m. ET|
The Eastern Conference Finals present NBA fans and bettors with a surprising matchup, as both the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and reigning league champion Toronto Raptors were taken down by the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, respectively. The Celtics are short -130 favorites in this series, but are the Heat getting too much credit after upsetting the Bucks?
Miami enters Game 1 well-rested, with the team's last game played exactly a week before this series opener. Upsetting the overall No. 1 seed in the playoffs is always a surprise, but the Heat presented a dramatic matchup problem for the Bucks with how many 3-pointers they could take and how efficient they were from long range. Here, Miami plays a much more complete Boston team that does not rely on one star player offensively.
While the Heat have an excellent 55.2 eFG% in the playoffs, earlier this season when they played the Celtics, they went 1-2, and a major factor in that was their 49.2 eFG% in those matchups. Miami shot a paltry 32.8% from beyond the arc, which is a sharp drop-off from 38.4% during the season overall.
The Heat create these opportunities by utilizing the handoff more often than any other team in the league, on 8.8% of plays during the regular season per NBA.com. This generates 1.07 points per possession along with a 55.4% eFG%. The problem is, the Celtics defend this play better than anyone in the league. They only allow 0.83 points per possession for a 42.9% eFG%.
This is one of Miami's offensive staples, and Boston can effectively nullify that. The Celtics have the length to close out and force tough shots along with possessing the defensive acumen and agility to switch on the perimeter. Therefore, points will likely be at a premium in this series.
One way to disrupt Boston's rotations is to get the team's players into foul trouble. Luckily for Miami, Jimmy Butler has been an absolute warriors. Butler has gotten to the free-throw line the second-most often of any player in the playoffs at 10.7 times per game.
This season, the Celtics are giving up 21.6 free throws to opponents per 100 field goal attempts (22nd), per Cleaning the Glass. This aligns well with the Heat, who take the second-most free-throw attempts using that same metric. Miami will work to utilize backdoor cuts and driving opportunities to force Boston into foul trouble, producing free-throw attempts to stabilize its shooting.
One of the major questions surrounding the Celtics is, when will Gordon Hayward return? Hayward has been out since August 17 with an ankle sprain, but it seems as if he will play at some point later on in this series after taking some shots before Boston beat Toronto in Game 7 of the last round. That being said, the Celtics have held their own just fine without him, and they will have to continue to do so in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston has the second-best Net Rating in both the regular season and in the playoffs (6.3 and 8.3, respectively), per NBA.com. The Celtics have done this by limiting their opponents from beyond the arc. In the regular season, they held opponents to just 34.6% shooting from three, and this has dropped to 31% during the playoffs, per Cleaning the Glass.
Boston is daring opponents to take 3-point shots. We've seen it now in back-to-back series against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Raptors, but the Celtics know they can close out and cause contested looks even on spot-up shots. Boston limits opponents to a 52% eFG% on spot-up shots. Miami doesn't necessarily rely on this shot, but it's another area the team has excelled in during these playoffs (65.2% eFG%) that Boston seems to have an answer for.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Heat are a good team, as they took down the heavily favored Bucks, who were expected to make it to the NBA Finals. However, I don't think they have the tools to beat the Celtics in a seven-game series. Boston is an elite team on both sides of the ball, and personnel-wise matches up well with how Miami likes to operate on offense.
I have a lean on the Celtics to win Game 1, but I also think they win this series in six games.
Turning to the game 1 total, it has been profitable to follow the line movement when the total decreases.
The Game 1 total has dropped from the opening line of 211.5 down to 209.5. Considering the defensive issues Boston presents for Miami, I think this is actionable.
The Picks: Under 209.5 down to 208.5 & Celtics to win the series (-130 up to -140)