The Heat spat the bit Tuesday night and lost a heartbreaker in Milwaukee. That’s chum in the water as far as the Boston Celtics are concerned; Boston is 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS in its last nine games.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 23: 59-52-4 ATS, 5-10 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
If the Miami Heat end up missing the playoffs this year – well, the cliché tells us they’ll remember Tuesday’s 89-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks (+2 at home), who came back from a 14-point deficit with 6:33 remaining in the fourth quarter to win the game on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. But really, the Heat won’t remember this game much at all. They’ll just curse the bad luck they’ve had with injuries this year and move on.
In the short term, though, Miami is going to have to chew on this one before facing the Boston Celtics Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET). The Celtics are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference as we go to press, one game behind the Heat, with three other teams breathing down their necks. The C’s are also on a big-time roll against the NBA odds at 23-8-1 ATS since mid-January. Can they add to that total as 4-point home faves against the Heat?
Bite the Hand
Oh, Miami. You had everything going for you Tuesday night, and then you blew it. The Heat (32-38 SU, 31-35-4 ATS) scored just nine points in that fatal fourth quarter. They’d built up that 14-point lead with solid shooting from the perimeter (8-of-19 on the evening), while Milwaukee was hitting mostly air at 4-of-17. But that performance masked some serious issues for the Heat. They were out-rebounded 53-34, out-assisted 25-18, and out-blocked 9-4. The Bucks were able to take 12 more shot attempts in total, which was all the difference in the end.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Hassan Whiteside (26.3 PER, minus-1.3 BPM) had to leave the game late in the second quarter after suffering a cut on his right hand. Whiteside had 10 stitches put in, but he couldn’t return to the game and reportedly had no feeling in his hand afterward. Suffice to say he won’t be performing the Vulcan salute anytime soon.
Whiteside’s Box Plus/Minus numbers aren’t very impressive, but his Real Plus-Minus is: plus-2.40, including plus-2.69 on the defensive end. That puts him in the Top 10 among NBA centers this year. If he can’t play Wednesday night, Chris Andersen (16.3 PER, plus-1.4 BPM) will get some more burn, but so will Michael Beasley (9.8 PER, minus-5.2 BPM), and we’re not nearly as, ahem, high on Beasley as we were last year. Nyuk-nyuk.
Thom Thom Club
The Celtics (31-39 SU, 41-28-1 ATS) have had enough injuries of their own, thank you kindly. But they’re almost back to full strength, and it looks like Isaiah Thomas (23.3 PER, plus-3.1 BPM) will return Wednesday night after missing the last eight games with a bruised back and elbow. We’ve been riding the C’s pretty steadily since they picked up Thomas from the Phoenix Suns at the trade deadline, in a 3-way that also bagged Jonas Jerebko (14.5 PER, minus-0.4 BPM) from the Detroit Pistons.
With Thomas back in the fold, that just leaves Jared Sullinger (18.4 PER, plus-2.1 BPM) on Boston’s injured list. That would have been a killer blow earlier in the season, but the Celtics are brimming with talent now, thanks to last year’s tanking efforts, plus the Rajon Rondo trade and the arrival of Thomas and Jerebko. Boston even managed to unload Jeff Green (14.7 PER, minus-1.6 BPM) for a first-rounder in a case of addition by subtraction.
Because we haven’t had any further updates on Whiteside as we go to press, we’re going to have to make this NBA pick conditional on his absence. But we’re definitely leaning strongly toward the Celtics in this situation. Live long and prosper, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Celtics (if Whiteside sits out) at BetOnline