NBA Playoff Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Heat vs. Celtics Game 5 (Friday, Sept. 25)

NBA Playoff Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Heat vs. Celtics Game 5 (Friday, Sept. 25) article feature image
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Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat.

  • Looking to bet tonight's Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 matchup? You’ve come to the right place.
  • Our NBA crew is targeting three spread bets, including a first-quarter bet, first-half bet, and a full-game bet.
  • Check out each of our three favorite bets for Heat vs. Celtics Game 5.

Looking for best bets for Game 6? Click here.

The Boston Celtics are officially in desperation mode and face elimination in Friday’s Game 5 against the Miami Heat. We’ve seen plenty of comebacks in this postseason, but the Heat seem to have an answer for everything the Celtics throw at them. You can read our full game breakdown for Game 5 here.

The rest of our staff is here breaks down their favorite NBA bets for tonight’s Eastern Conference finals matchup:

  • 8:30 p.m. ET: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Friday NBA Betting Picks


Odds via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Raheem Palmer: Heat vs. Celtics

Heat odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Celtics odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +133/-159 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 213 [BET NOW]
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

The market hasn’t priced this series properly for the past three games. The Celtics opened Game 1 as 1.5-point favorites and yet after four games their power rating has artificially increased to the point where they’re now laying 3.5 points on a neutral court in a series in which they trail 3-1. You can’t make this up.

Without home court factors, the line should be priced the same for the entire series unless there’s injury or lineup news or significant evidence that tells us otherwise. Neither of those factors are at play tonight and for the fifth consecutive game, the market believes the Celtics should be favored.

If this line were Celtics -1.5, it would be somewhat justifiable. At -3 and above, I’m not buying it. The Celtics might have more talent, but the Heat have proven to be better up to this point.

While the Celtics struggled with the Heat’s zone defense, the Heat had an answer for everything that has been thrown at them.

Double-digit deficits? No problem.

The Celtics “best five” unit with Kemba Walker/Marcus Smart/Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown/Gordon Hayward? Too small and can’t rebound.

Tatum scores 28 second-half points? Tyler Herro takes over over in the fourth quarter.

Through four games in this series, both teams have scored 441 points so it’s evident that there’s little to no gap between these teams. What’s the difference?

Execution and hustle.

The Heat have a 9.6% Turnover Rate and a 22.6% ORB while the Celtics have a 14.5% Turnover Rate and a 21.9% ORB. When you get this far, the little things matter. One team is doing that better than the other.

Take +3.5 points with the Heat. Win or lose, you have a positive expected value proposition with the market undervaluing a team that dismantled a historically great Milwaukee Bucks team and has lost two games for the entire playoffs.

The Pick: Heat +3.5

[Bet the Heat at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]


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Malik Smith: Heat vs. Celtics

In this postseason, the Celtics have rarely trailed at halftime. Game 4 was the first time since Round 1 that they were behind after two quarters. They’ve either had a lead or been tied in every other game and are 10-5 against the spread in the first half during the playoffs, according to our Bet Labs database.

In Wednesday’s game, the Celtics got nothing from Tatum in the first half — not even a free throw attempt. It was the first time he was held scoreless in the first half of game since April 2019.

The Celtics may blow second-half leads, but losing the first half isn’t something we should expect from them on a regular basis, especially in an elimination game. I’ll back the C’s to cover the first half again tonight.

The Pick: Celtics -1.5 1H

[Bet the Celtics at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

Brandon Anderson: Heat vs. Celtics

The Celtics continue to look like the better team that is getting outplayed and outhustled by the Heat. (After two straight series of this trend, maybe we need to adjust our meaning of better team.)

When the Celtics are humming, the points can come in a hurry, the defense communicates well, and they look like real title contenders. The problem is they can’t maintain that for 48 minutes. The Celtics play like the better team for about 35-40 minutes each game, but can’t quite get over the hump in those last minutes. I’m not sure if it’s mental lapses or conditioning or coaching, or some combination of all those things, but this is not a new problem for the Celtics and it’s not going away.

Their one consistent trait has been preparation and readiness at the start of the game. The Celtics have come out looking good each game, and their blips tend to happen later once that early focus is gone. Boston is 3-1 in the first quarter this series, and their one loss came by a point in Game 4 when Tatum missed a good look at the buzzer. The Celtics are +19 in the first quarter, and these teams are tied overall through four games so that makes Boston -19 following the first.

I still genuinely think the Celtics are the better team. I still think Hayward’s return is very significant, and until we see Bam Adebayo look like himself, I’m worried about that injury. I will be looking hard at Celtics series and championship odds, but I can’t ignore the way this team falls apart in the flow of the game.

What I can do is bet on Boston’s first quarter spread at -1 and then let the Celtics figure out their own mess from there. The Celtics have been better early all series, and they are the more desperate team. I’ll play up to -140.

The Pick: Celtics -1 (1Q)

[Bet the Celtics at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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