Heat vs. Celtics Odds, Pick & Preview: Back Miami as Road Underdogs (January 31)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Herro #14 and Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat.
- The Miami Heat travel to Boston to face the Celtics in an Eastern conference clash Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV).
- The Heat are expected to be shorthanded, as they have been for much of the season.
- Can they cover as 4.5-point dogs on the road? Roberto Arguello digs into the matchup.
Heat vs. Celtics Odds
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The Celtics have been underwhelming this season as they are just 26-25 and sit in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. On the other hand, the Heat have been impressive as they have weathered the storm without key players all season, and consequently, they are 32-18 on the season and have the best record in the Eastern conference.
Can the Celtics get a statement win on Monday, or will the Heat continue to outperform expectations while shorthanded?
Miami’s Shooters Remain Scorching Hot
If the Heat win as road underdogs, it will be because their 3-point shooters step up and at least one of Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo have a big night offensively. The Heat will be without Kyle Lowry (personal) while Jimmy Butler (ankle) is questionable. Butler played 52 minutes in Saturday night’s triple overtime loss to the Raptors, and I would be very surprised to see him suit up on Monday.
With Lowry and (likely) Butler out, the Heat will rely on a higher frequency of 3-point shots than usual on Monday. This means that players like Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Herro, and Gabe Vincent, among others, will need to make shots for them to compete.
The good news for Heat bettors is that their shooters have been on fire this season, hitting 38.1% from beyond the arc, which leads the NBA (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass). They should have an advantage from beyond the arc against a Celtics team that ranks 23rd as they are shooting 34.1% on 3s this season.
The Heat also need their other playmakers to step up to drive the offense. This means that Herro, Adebayo, Vincent and PJ Tucker will all play key roles as distributors, but they also need to be aggressive and pick up the slack in Butler’s absence and put pressure on the rim when they have the opportunities.
Celtics’ Dynamic Duo Is Key
If the Celtics win and cover as home favorites, they need another big game from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Romeo Langford (heel) is questionable to play Monday.
Boston is a flawed team that lacks enough scoring and creation outside of Tatum and Brown, so it is imperative that those two have efficient, high-volume performances against a quality team like the Heat. Spacing and ball movement aren’t exactly strengths for the Celtics, which means Tatum and Brown will need to make some tough shots in this matchup against Miami.
The good news for the Celtics is that one of these two won’t have to be guarded by Butler (and he likely won’t be looming somewhere on the weak side), but the Heat still have plenty of defenders who will make life tough for them such as Caleb Martin, Tucker and Adebayo.
Marcus Smart will be a key player for the Celtics as he and Tatum are by far the Celtics’ two best distributors, but Smart (30.3% on 3s) will also need to knock down shots against a Heat defense designed to limit shots close to the rim.
Editor’s Note: Butler (toe) has been ruled out and Tucker (toe) is also out as a late scratch. Take the Heat on the spread at +6.5 instead of targeting them on the moneyline.
The Celtics are favored against a Heat team that will likely be down two starters in Lowry and Butler, but I like the value on the Heat to pull the upset. With the Heat’s available roster, they will take a higher volume of 3s than normal, and this means there will be variance.
The Heat have consistently made their shots from the perimeter this season, and just about all of their shooters have been hot. Duncan Robinson is coming off of a poor 0-5 night on 3s on Saturday, but after starting the season in a slump (by his standards), he is shooting 41% on 3s over the last 25 games (since December 3rd). Robinson also played just 20 minutes against the Raptors, so he will be one of the fresher Heat players, and I like the value on him to go over his scoring props.
The Heat still have the ammunition defensively to bother Tatum and Brown, and the Celtics are too flawed of an offensive team to lay the points against a Heat defense that is still solid without Lowry and Butler. Take the Heat at +6.5 on the spread at DraftKings.
Pick: Heat +6.5