Thursday, 7 p.m. ET (TNT)
Free NBA Pick: Under
Best Line Offered: SportsBetting
It’s a potential first-round playoff preview in the TNT opener this Thursday – note the 7 p.m. ET start time instead of the usual 8 p.m. ET – as the Boston Celtics visit the Miami Heat. Somehow, it’s the first meeting of the season. Boston is the only Eastern Conference team that Miami has yet to play. They have three more meetings to go: Jan. 21 in Boston, April 1 in Beantown and April 3 back in south Florida.
Last year, the Heat won the season series 2-1 – all three low-scoring — but Miami is still just 46-70 all-time vs. Boston in the regular season and 27-33 at home. Goran Dragic led the Heat in scoring a season ago vs. the Celtics at 24.5 ppg, but he’s out injured now. Former Celtic Kelly Olynyk put up 17.3 ppg. Hassan Whiteside played in just one game. Dwyane Wade none. Kyrie Irving led Boston in putting up 26.7 points per game in the series, while Jayson Tatum was at 16.3. Al Horford just 8.3 ppg but 7.3 rebounds.
Big advantage to Miami here with Boston having had to fly late night Wednesday after hosting a very good Indiana team.
Heat On Rest Advantage
The Celtics play 12 back-to-backs this season. This is No. 7. Boston has five B2Bs where it plays the first at home and the second on the road. That has happened twice so far. On Nov. 30, the Celtics blasted the Cavaliers and the next night won 118-109 at Minnesota. On Dec. 14, the Celtics routed the Hawks and then lost 113-104 the next night in Detroit. Overall, Boston is 5-1 in the first of a B2B this season and 2-4 in the second (2-3 on road).
Sometimes, the Heat’s offense goes missing and that has been the case during a two-game losing streak in which Miami has totaled 181 points. The Heat were 103-99 home losers to Denver on Tuesday to fall back under .500 – quite possible that the Southeast Division champion will finish with a losing record.
Nikola Jokic put Denver ahead to stay with a floating jumper with 2.4 seconds left. The Heat turned it over on their possession, and then Jamal Murray added two free throws. Miami was crushed on the board, 50-38. While Denver is one of the NBA’s best rebounding teams, so is Miami.
Dion Waiters returned after missing the past two for the Heat and had 15 points in 25 minutes. It was Waiters’ first time playing in Miami since December 2017 as he had been out more than a year due to ankle surgery. His season debut was last Wednesday in Cleveland. Coach Erik Spoelstra played 10 guys vs. Denver and all of them got at least 16 minutes. That’s what happens when you don’t have a true star.
- Under is 7-2 in Celtics last 9 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
- Under is 7-3 in Heat last 10 Thursday games.
These are two of the five-best defensive teams in the NBA, and the Celtics’ shots may come up a bit short at times because of heavy legs. Thus, bet the ‘under’ for a Thursday pick.