The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are evenly matched, but the Under is a viable NBA pick on the best betting sites for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
Thursday, September 17, 2020 – 7:00 PM ET at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Who said chalk rules the NBA? Okay, seven of the eight top seeds did advance to the second round of the playoffs. But that’s where everything fell apart; the only surviving top-two conference seed heading into Round 3 is the Los Angeles Lakers. The No. 5 Miami Heat has already taken a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference final with the Boston Celtics. Should we stick with the underdogs for our NBA picks? Maybe not this time.
We made hay betting on the Celtics versus the Toronto Raptors; sadly, the projections for this series don’t leave much wiggle room – not with Boston laying 2.5 points at Bovada. That’s exactly where the stat nerds at FiveThirtyEight have Thursday’s matchup. Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today is slightly more parsimonious at Boston –1.89, but that’s not enough difference to recommend betting the spread on either side. Phooey.
How about that Under, though? It looks like the remaining players have had just about enough of the Orlando bubble life – see what happened to the Los Angeles Clippers if you need some convincing. Or just consider that the Under went 39-26 (60 percent) the past 30 days, and 6-2 (75 percent) the past week. Don’t crack open the piggy bank just yet.
Game 1 of this series would have gone Over 209.5 even without the extra five minutes they played; the Heat and Celtics were tied 106-106 heading into overtime before Miami pulled out the 117-114 victory. But these two teams are designed to generate low scores. Thursday’s total has already been bet down from 209 to 208.5 on the NBA odds board at Heritage, so we’re obviously not the only ones pounding the Under in early action.
Boston Molasses Disaster
As always, we need to look at the 3-point shooting from Tuesday’s series opener to get a clearer picture for Game 2. The Heat shot 16-of-36 (44.4 percent) from downtown, up from 37.9 percent during the regular season; Boston went 15-of-42 (35.7 percent), down just a hair from 36.4 percent.
The door is open for the regression monsters to knock Miami down a peg. We’re counting on tempo and defense to take care of the rest. The Heat runs one of the slowest offenses in the league at 100.5 possessions per game (No. 27 overall), while the Celtics are in the middle of the pack at 101.9 possessions (No. 16). Tuesday’s opener produced a pace of 90 possessions per 48 minutes – slow as molasses.
As for the defense, perhaps you saw what Bam Adebayo did in Game 1. It’s the Celtics, though, who have the better defense on paper at 104.5 points allowed per 100 possessions (No. 4 overall). Miami was No. 11 during the regular season at 107.2 points allowed; they’re a better team now with Andre Iguodala (minus-2.0 OBPM, plus-3.1 DBPM) coming off the bench. We’ll buy that for a dollar on the top sportsbooks.