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NBA Odds, Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Heat vs. Celtics Game 1 Wednesday, May 17

NBA Odds, Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Heat vs. Celtics Game 1 Wednesday, May 17 article feature image
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Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat.

  • The Eastern Conference finals tip Wednesday night with a rematch of last year's series between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
  • Action Network's betting analysts have five best bets today.
  • Check out their expert picks for Heat vs Celtics Game 1.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals was not for the faint of heart. We can only hope that Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals will live up to the excitement. The Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat in the series opener, which is a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals from last year.

Action Network’s analysts have five best bets today and three of those bets are all in line on one side of the spread in this matchup. Read on for their expert picks for Heat vs Celtics below.

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Heat vs. Celtics Spread & Moneyline
Heat vs. Celtics Moneyline
Heat vs. Celtics Spread
Heat vs. Celtics Player Prop
Heat vs. Celtics Total

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Heat +8 | +300 ML
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Brandon Anderson: I have a lot of bets on the ECF series opener, which I wrote about in my Game 1 betting column (you can read that here). I also have several picks I’m making for the series ( you can find those picks here).

Boston is -550 to win the series, an implied 85%, an outrageous number honestly. This Game 1 line is almost as aggressive, with Boston -8.5 and -350 on the moneyline, an implied 78% to win.

If you’ve watched any of the East playoffs so far, you know these games have been grinders. An 8.5-point line in the East is more like 12 or 15 points for some of these West series. That is a seriously steep line.

The Heat have played 42 games this season within five points, over 45% of their games. That’s the second most in NBA history, just two off the record. Miami has a knack for keeping things close and grinding it out. The Heat have covered +8.5 in 77 of their 93 games this year, covering this line 82.8% of the time.

Now, not all of those games were against Boston. Most of them were not, of course.

But not all Boston games are created equal either.

This is historically a great spot to back Miami as the opponent of a team coming off a Game 7 win.

Raheem Palmer wrote for Action Network on the attrition impact of Game 7 on teams in the following series. Since 1988, teams coming off a Game 7 win are 33-52 SU in the following Game 1, an ugly 36.5% win rate including 0-1 this year. Those teams are also 36-49 in the series, a 42.4% success rate.

Those are very ugly numbers, and they show just how hard it can be to immediately get up for a new opponent on short rest and low preparation after a grueling seven-game series. There’s nuance to any trend, of course. Most teams coming off a Game 7 win aren’t great — hence why they were playing in a Game 7 — and a lot of them are on the road. Boston also got to take its foot off the gas pedal in the final minutes of Game 7. Still, that trend is awfully strong and should be ignored at your own peril.

I like Miami, and I’ll take them to cover (I got them at +8.5 before the line moved) and play the moneyline too.

This is about betting the spot and it’s about betting the number. The Heat have value against a tired Celtics team coming off a Game 7, and the Heat have value and +300 is far too long on the moneyline.


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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Miami Heat ML +300
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Bryan Fonseca: The sportsbooks are being very disrespectful to the Heat.

The books are leaning 4-1 Celtics in this series despite them giving two games to the Atlanta Hawks and three to the Philadelphia 76ers. So we’re supposed to believe they’d give one game to a team that nearly swept the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks?

And you could argue they’d have won the Knicks series sooner if not for … never mind, we’ll stay in the present.

The Heat are 2-0 in Game 1s in the playoffs — one win in Milwaukee, the other at Madison Square Garden. They enter Game 1 having last played on Friday evening, the Celtics closed the door on the 76ers Sunday afternoon — a series that began with a Sixers Game 1 win in Boston. Miami is also 3-0 all-time in Game 1’s against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In last year’s ECF, the Heat won two games in Boston — Games 3 and 6, their first and last in the TD Garden for the series. Jimmy Butler’s had more time to heal his ankle, and wouldn’t it be classic Heat for an Erik Spoelstra led team — one entirely different in the playoffs from the play-in and the regular season, the data and eye test would indicate — to beat a Joe Mazzulla-led team to begin this series. Even as a “diminished” Playoff Jimmy, he averaged 25-7-6-2-1 against the Knicks and got just enough from his supporting cast.

The +300 is too tantalizing not to sprinkle on, especially on a team who has defied odds time and again since April, and are 5-3 straight up as underdogs during this run. And you know at some point, Pat Riley’s goon squad will once again cause everyone near Martha’s Vineyard and the New England sector to piss their pants.


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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Heat +8
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Matt Moore: Along with bets for Game 1, I have a strong angle on this series spread and wrote more about the matchup in Heat vs Celtics series preview. Teams after winning a Game 7 are 22-38 straight up, 24-35-1 ATS in the following game since 2003. Home teams are 11-13 (46%) and 7-16-1 (30.4%) in that span.

Favorites are 10-10 straight up but still just 6-13-1 (32%) ATS. Playing a Game 7 takes it out of you.

Even with the extra rest day, teams are 1-3 straight up and 2-2 ATS, with favorites 0-2.

This number is preposterously long for Miami. It’s a 7-seed vs. a 2-seed, but it’s still a Conference Finals game between two teams each with three appearances in four years.

The Sixers were eight-point dogs in Game 5 in Boston and won that game outright. The Celtics’ spread was too short in every game in the previous series with a comparable spread. So either the books’ power rating overrates Boston again or it accounts for it being too short but the Heat are significantly worse than the Sixers.

It doesn’t feel like either. That, plus the Game-7 trend, makes the Heat spread a bet and the ML a small bet.


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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Jayson Tatum o4.5 AST Game 1 | Series: o5 APG, Assists Leader
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Joe Dellera: For more on how to bet props in this series, check out my Conference Finals player props forecast here for bets I’m making in both series.

In the Playoffs, Tatum is averaging 5.2 assists on 8.8 potentials per game. Last year, Tatum easily lead the series with 39 total assists on 5.6 per game (granted, Boston has added Brogdon which takes away a bit but not as much).

I like Tatum to lead the series in assists because the number (+700 Bet365) for someone that will always have the ball in his hands is too high. I also expect Miami to sell out trying to stop him offensively. This should force the ball from his hands. Additionally, I like Tatum to exceed his 5.0 assists per game average listed at DraftKings. As mentioned previously, he is averaging 5.2 during the playoffs and has recorded at least five in 10 of 13 games.

I’ll also play over 4.5 assists in Game 1. His assist percentage has increased each year in the Playoffs and the market is not fully adjusted for it. While I’d typically be scared away by an assists prop that requires a conversion percentage of over 50% on his average potentials, it does not account for the fact that the looks Tatum is generating for his teammates are high quality because he demands so much defensive attention.


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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Over 210.5
Book
FanDuel
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Moore: I’ve got one more. The funny thing about that Game 7 trend above is it also correlates to the over. The over is 36-22-2 (62.1%) since 2003 in games with one team off a Game 7. With that team at home, the over is 17-7 (71%). Teams have allowed the opponent’s win total to go over in 15 of those 24 instances at home.

These teams bomb threes. The Heat have to; they don’t have the firepower inside or the playmaking ability, especially with Jimmy Butler on a bad ankle. The Celtics just will; they absolutely bomb from deep constantly.

Last year this was a complete grind. The average total was 203.6 Both of these are switching scheme teams (a lot of the time) with great defensive numbers from the regular season. A low total makes sense.

The over hit in four of the seven games last year.

Plus, the big key is that these teams aren’t those teams. Both teams’ defenses are not what they were last year. They play more drop coverage, and switch less. The Celtics’ offense is better, the Heat offense has been better in the second half of the year.

This number is built on assuming these teams are similar to last year. They are, but not enough for this total.

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