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NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Anderson’s Bets for Celtics vs Heat Game 3

NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Anderson’s Bets for Celtics vs Heat Game 3 article feature image

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler.

  • The Miami Heat own a surprising 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • NBA betting expert Brandon Anderson has a robust betting card with six betting picks that include player props, spreads and futures.
  • Continue reading for his Celtics vs. Heat predictions below.

Celtics vs Heat Game 3 Odds

Sunday, May 21
8:30 p.m. ET
Celtics Odds
-4 (-115)
-110 / -110
Heat Odds
+4 (-110)
-110 / -110
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Not many had the 8-seed Miami Heat going up 2-0 on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, but here we are, making Celtics vs Heat picks with Miami up 2-0 as the series heads to … Miami.

One month ago, the Heat were a few minutes away from losing a second consecutive home play-in. Now, they have a chance to win twice at home, sweep the mighty Celtics out of the playoffs, and head to the NBA Finals.

We were all over the Heat in our series preview. We’ve already cashed our Miami +2.5 series bet, need just one more win to hit +1.5 (+165), and Heat in 6 or better hits the big +680 win. We missed on Boston in our Game 2 card, but a big Caleb Martin +2400 hit saved our ROI.

Boston’s been outrageously overpriced from the jump in this series. The Celtics were near double-digit favorites at home and were initially an implied 85% to win the series. Now that Miami won twice on the road, surely books have adjusted and given the Heat some credit, right?


Boston’s a road favorite, and the Celtics are still nearly a coin flip to win the series. Let’s look at Boston’s chances in Game 3 and consider how to bet the series going forward.

Swallow Hard and Bet on the Desperate Celtics … Again

For a few minutes in Game 2, our Celtics bounce-back spot was looking great. Boston went on a 21-2 run to open an 11-point first-half lead and looked well on its way. But Miami soon ripped off a 19-2 run, led at the half and closed the deal late.

Despite the overinflated line, we backed Boston in Game 2 because it was a great spot. Home teams down 0-1 in Game 2 had won 16 consecutive games and were 7-0 this year. This spot is obviously rare.

Down 0-2 all-time, Boston is 11-6 in Game 3 with five consecutive wins but is just 2-15 in those series. Per, teams that go up 2-0 on the road are 27-5 in that series, including 11-0 in the Conference Finals. Miami is 17-0 all-time when it takes a 2-0 series lead.

The long-term outlook for Boston isn’t great — but the short-term outlook isn’t as bad. Teams that hit the road down 0-2 are 14-18 in Game 3. No team in history has gone down 0-3 and advanced. Boston is playing for its season and its title hopes. Unless you think this team is dead, this has to be a Celtics win.

I’ll meet Boston halfway.

The Celtics have been an elite first-half team all year with a +9.2 Net Rating, which is the best in the NBA. Miami has a negative first-half Net Rating for the postseason, and that’s nothing new. Look at Miami’s splits in recent playoffs:

  • 2020: First half (-3.1), Second half (+7.4)
  • 2022: First half (+0.3), Second half (+7.3)
  • 2023: First half (-0.9), Second half (+10.5)

This is who Miami is. The Heat absorb punches early, hang around then make a late push. Boston is just the opposite, coming out hot, but continually folding late. The Celtics have the most losses in the NBA after leading by double digits.

I think Boston wins, but I don’t trust it late.

I do trust the Celtics to come out desperate and focused in the first half, be locked in defensively and give themselves a shot. Boston’s script isn’t a comeback. The Celtics will want to get out quickly and build a first-half lead.

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Bam Adebayo Has Been the 3rd-Best Player in the Series

The Heat are winning in part because Bam Adebayo has been the series’ third-best player, ahead of Jaylen Brown.

I’ll keep playing Brown over 2.5 turnovers. We missed by the hook in Game 2, but Brown has at least two turnovers in 13 of 15 playoff games (87%) and has gone over this in 10 (67%), averaging 3.3 per game. He’s not handling Miami’s pressure well.

Adebayo has shown up in a big way. He had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Game 1, then put up a monster 22/17/9 line in Game 2. He’s been a beast on the glass, keeping Boston from second-chance opportunities, and he’s scoring efficiently.

I didn’t expect this to be a Robert Williams series, but it might not be an Al Horford series either. Boston was so desperate for bigs it took Grant Williams out of the mothballs and played him 26 minutes, including crunch time, in Game 2. Adebayo is dominating the interior.

I like Adebayo’s rebounding, though not his traditional over 9.5 rebounds. I’d rather play more aggressively (12+ at +240, 15+ at +1000), but my favorite Adebayo bet is for him to lead Game 3 in rebounds (+180 at FanDuel). Jayson Tatum is the favorite, but Adebayo has had more rebounds than Tatum in both games. Adebayo led all players in rebounds in Game 2 and was one off the lead in Game 1.

Bets: Bam Adebayo Game 3 Rebounds Leader (+180, FanDuel) | Jaylen Brown Over 2.5 Turnovers (-140, BetMGM)

Pick: Bam Adebayo Rebounds Leader +180

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Expect a Big Marcus Smart Game

Smart had a miserable Game 2 and was mostly invisible with just seven points, four rebounds and three assists on 2-of-5 shooting. That’s unusual because Smart almost always plays most aggressively when Boston’s back is against the wall.

Before the Game 2 clunker, Smart had averaged 18.2 points, 5.7 boards and 7.5 rebounds on 15.3 shot attempts over the past two postseasons in games when Boston trailed in the series. Compare those numbers to Smart in all other playoff games: 15.4/4.1/5.5 on 12.2 shots. His production is up on points, rebounds, and assists, and he’s taking three more shots per game.

For better or for worse — usually both — Smart shows up aggressively in these huge spots when Boston needs a leader.

Smart hasn’t done much since the first half of Game 1, so we’re getting a real discount on his odds. I’ll play this in a couple of ways.

First, give me Smart over 21.5 points + rebounds + assists. Notice a rise from 25.0 PRA to 31.4 in the numbers above, a 26% increase in production. Before the poor Game 2, Smart had gone over 21.5 PRA in all six of those series-trailing games.

I wish we could play a PRA escalator. Since we can’t, I’ll nibble over 17.5 points +390 (bet365). More aggression and shots mean more chances to score, and Smart has gone over this line in four of seven trailing games.

Bets: Marcus Smart Over 21.5 PRA (-125, FanDuel) | Smart Over 17.5 Points (+390, bet365)

Caleb Martin Should Continue to be an X-Factor

Martin was a big win for us in Game 2. We bet Martin to go over 1.5 3s and lead the game in 3s at +2400 and hit both as he went 3-of-7 for a second straight game.

Martin finished with 25 points, two off Miami’s lead. He has quickly become one of Miami’s most reliable players this series, stealing Kevin Love’s minutes with his versatile two-way game.

Boston tried to stash Robert Williams on Martin in Game 2, allowing Williams to freelance off Martin as a help defender. It went disastrously for Boston, as Couper Moorhead reported. Martin attacked the space Williams afforded him, took the 3 if he had room or attacked the rim off the dribble. He’s averaging 20 PPG in 31 MPG in this series.

You can bet Martin to go over 10.5 points, or just take the over 1.5 3s again. I don’t want to rely on him going 8-of-9 on 2s again, so I’ll stick with the 3s. He’s had seven attempts in both games and leads the series in both makes (6) and attempts (14).

I’m also compelled to play Martin at +2500 (DraftKings) to lead the series in 3s. Tatum would be my pick, but Martin’s number is far too long with the volume he’s seeing. I’d rather nibble Tatum at +1900 to lead the series in assists, another beatable market.

Bets: Caleb Martin over 1.5 3s (+124, FanDuel) | Martin Series Leader — 3-Pointers (+2500, DraftKings)

Boston Isn’t Dead in this Series — But the Value is Still on Miami

The Celtics are absolutely still live — in Game 3, in this series, and to win the title.

Boston is really, really good, and we dare not count them out. This Celtics core has won five Game 7s, and this team has come back from down 3-2 two years in a row, staving off elimination on the road.

Boston made under 35% of its 3s in both games this series. The Celtics are 0-4 this postseason and 16-20 on the year when they fail to hit that number — but are 41-6 when they go over. Everything changes when Boston’s 3s fall, on both ends of the court.

The Celtics can still win this. The problem is the books are still giving them far too much credit as they have all along.

We saw in our series preview that the value was all on Miami, and though Boston isn’t dead, the value is still on Miami.

I’ve got the Heat at around 72% to win the series. That’s far off the posted line, and the difference appears to be books not giving Miami credit for potentially ending this series quickly.

I don’t expect a Miami sweep, but my numbers make it a 22% probability and there’s no telling how this Boston team might turn on each other or quit if it goes down 0-3. I also give Miami an 18% chance to win this in five. That means there’s a 40% chance, an implied +150, at Miami in five or less. We can play that at Miami -2.5, but under 5.5 games (+220 at BetMGM) looks like the better play at 31% implied.

If you’ve got BetMGM, we can take this one step further. They’ve got some special bets parlaying ECF MVP with series winner and are bizarrely pricing Jimmy Butler around 60-70% to win MVP if the Heat win the series. I’d put Butler above 90%. Series MVPs overwhelmingly go to the winning team’s scoring leader, and Butler is 10 PPG ahead of Adebayo.

Butler has been the best player in the East. He’s a shoo-in for ECF MVP, especially if Miami closes this out quickly.

Miami’s number is still in our favor. Let’s put some of that Heat +2.5 series money back on the line. I’ll split my bet in two.

Bets: Jimmy Butler ECF MVP & Miami in 4 (+500, BetMGM) | Butler ECF MVP & Miami in 5 (+1000, BetMGM)

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Anderson’s Game 3 Betting Card

  • Celtics -1.5 1H -122
  • Bam Adebayo Game 3 Rebounds Leader +180
  • Jaylen Brown Over 2.5 Turnovers -140
  • Marcus Smart Over 21.5 PRA -122 | Over 17.5 Points +390 (0.5 unit)
  • Caleb Martin Over 1.5 3s -120 | Series 3s Leader +2500 (0.5 unit)
  • Butler ECF MVP + Miami in 4 (+500) or 5 (+1000) (split bet, 0.5 unit each)

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