The Boston Celtics (46-32; 35-41-2 ATS) and the Miami Heat (38-39; 42-34-1 ATS) will lock horns for the second time in three days. Once again, the stake is huge for both teams, while the Celtics beat the Heat 110-105 as 7-point favorites on Monday. Boston won both head-to-head duels at TD Garden this season, while Miami defeated the Celtics 115-99 as 2.5-point home dogs at American Airlines Arena on January 10, 2019.
The Celtics could miss Jaylen Brown (back) and Marcus Morris (knee), as both these guys are listed as questionable. On the other side, Derrick Jones Jr. is out with a knee injury, while Justise Winslow (thigh), Josh Richardson (knee), and Rodney McGruder (knee) are all listed as questionable. It’s a huge headache for the Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, as Richardson is leading his team with 16.7 points per game, while Winslow is averaging 12.7 points and 4.3 assists per contest.
The Celtics opened as slight 1.5-point favorites with the total at 212.5 points and the Heat at +105 money line odds. Hereof, don’t bother with the spread and risk your money for a point, as we should see a really tight game. Boston has won three of its last four games, but the Celtics are just 5-6 straight up over their previous 11 outings. Also, the Celtics are 1-4 straight up in their last five games away from home. The Heat is 7-4 straight up in its last 11 outings and 7-3 straight up in its last ten games at home.
What’s at Stake?
The Celtics are tied with Indiana at the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat is sitting at the 8th spot just half a game ahead of Orlando. There is a lot on the table for both sides, especially for the hosts who are trying to stay above the line.
As I’ve mentioned, the Celtics outlasted the Heat at home two days ago, so both teams had one day to figure out what can they do better on this one. The Celtics will visit the Pacers Friday night in another tough matchup that could decide who will clinch that No. 4 seed in the East. The Heat will travel to Minneapolis on Friday.
The Celtics stormed the front on Monday, winning the first quarter 36-17, but they allowed the Heat to come back to life. We saw an interesting second half, and Miami cut the deficit to three points with two minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter. The Celtics keep a cool head and Kyrie Irving decided the winner with a pair of free throws. Uncle Drew finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and six turnovers. Al Horford had a big night, posting a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Goran Dragic carried the Heat with 30 points, five dimes, and five steals.
The Celtics shot poorly, making 39.6% of their field goals. However, they made 17 triples out of 40 attempts from deep. The Celtics scored just 28 points in the paint, while the Heat posted twice as much. Miami made 45.5% of its field goals and just 27.0% of its 3-pointers, allowing 14 offensive rebounds and turning the ball over 15 times.
The Heat will have to do a better job on the glass tonight, but the key factor will be their defense. Miami is allowing 107.6 points per 100 possessions (6th in the league) on 44.2% shooting from the field (2nd) and 35.9% from beyond the arc (19th). The Heat will have to protect the 3-point line better, as the Celtics are making 36.6% of their 3-point attempts (6th in the league).
Boston is also doing a good job at the defensive end, surrendering 107.9 points per 100 possessions (7th in the league) on 45.0% shooting from the field (5th), and 34.2% from downtown (8th). On the other side of the ball, the Celtics are scoring 112.2 points per 100 possessions (10th), while the Heat is tallying only 107.6 points per 100 possessions (26th).
I expect to see a tight game tonight that will be decided down the stretch by a few possessions. We saw a similar contest two days ago when the Celtics won by five points, and the winning margin of one to five points is around +130 odds on this one which seems like a nice wager. At least, you don’t need to worry about the winning side. The Heat has more injury worries than the Celtics, so the visitors are slight favorites for a reason.
This game could easily go either way, and I would rather take the under on the totals. Considering some tough defenses on both sides, we shouldn’t see a high-scoring affair. Three of the last six H2H duels were finished in the under, but four of them had 206 or fewer points in the total. Still, the under is 5-0 in Miami’s last five outings at American Airlines Arena.