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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics: Game 1 NBA Picks

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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics: Game 1 NBA Picks
Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics drives against Tyler Herro #14 of the Miami Heat. Kim Klement - Pool/Getty Images/AFP

As Miami Heat and Boston Celtics get set to collide in the Eastern Conference finals, we set you up with the betting landscape in this space, complete with select NBA picks.

The No.3 Boston Celtics outlasted the defending champions and No.1 seed Toronto Raptors to advance into the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years. Next up is the No.5 Miami Heat, who are flush off an upset over the No.1 seed Milwaukee Bucks and take a near-perfect record into the penultimate round of the NBA playoffs.

For the first time in league history, since going to the 16-team playoff format, the Eastern Conference Finals will not involve one of the top two seeds. Instead, two underdogs will go at it for a spot in the NBA finals. And by the NBA odds, the edge is being given to the Boston Celtics to emerge triumphantly and fly the Eastern Conference flag in the NBA Championship series. Do the bookies have it right?

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Series Odds

The Eastern Conference Finals are cornered with the Boston Celtics ahead of game 1, albeit ever so slightly. Top Sports Betting Sites tip the Boston Celtics around -130 as the faves over the Miami Heat, who are tipped around +110 as the underdogs to win the series and advance into the NBA Championship finals.

It follows that the first game is also cornered in Boston’s camp across the NBA odds board. The Celtics are laying -1.5 points in opening markets ahead of Game 1. The public appears to be backing Boston at early doors too (58% of the early bets to come down the wire went towards Boston in point-spread betting markets).

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Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against Gordon Hayward #20 and Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics in the first half of an NBA game during the regular season at the Bubble. Photo by Kim Klement – Pool/Getty Images/AFP

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 – 6:30 PM EST at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Boston Celtics Upset Defending Champs

The Boston Celtics upset the defending NBA champions Toronto Raptors 92-87, in an epic Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. It was a back-and-forth series from the start between two stellar rivals, and it had a fitting end to a highly thrilling series.

The Celtics took the commanding 2-0 lead over the Raptors at the start of the series. However, the defending champs then leveled with Boston by winning the next two games. With the series delicately poised so, the Celtics once again took the lead. Doing so in convincing fashion behind a stellar 111-89 victory in Game 5. The Celtics very nearly got the job done in Game 6, but the Raptors fought hard and took the 125-122 win in a double-overtime thriller. In the end, the Celts just wouldn’t be denied and went on to take the narrow win in Game 7.

The stats aren’t a gripping read: Celtics merely shot 40.7% from the field, 9-for-38 from three-point range, and 13-for-23 from the free-throw line. The defense was the key, however, as they held the Raptors to similarly low numbers: 47.3% from the field and 8-for-28 from the three-point range.

Jason Tatum is living up to the hype that preceded him into the 2019-20 NBA season. At just 22 years of age, the kid is lighting it up in such a manner that he’s earning comparisons to the late, great Kobe Bryant. Indeed, Friday’s win put Tatum in the history books as the second-youngest player in the NBA to record 25+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists in a Game 7. Jalen Brown, meanwhile, had 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and four steals.

The Celtics have been without Gordon Hayward since he suffered a third-degree ankle sprain in the first game of the playoffs. Word is Hayward might be slated to return for the Conference Finals. It would be a huge boost for the Celtics on Tuesday's game. In the meantime, Marcus Smart has been making an impact in his stead.

Boston NBA Betting Trends:

  • Boston Celtics are 49-30-4 ATS overall, which includes a 6.5 winning margin on average and a +3.0 differential versus the spread.
  • Boston Celtics are 36-46-1 in Over/Under betting
  • Boston Celtics are 8-3 SU and ATS in the NBA playoffs
Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics and Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics react during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Miami Heat Punching Above Their Weight Class

The Miami Heat upset the highly fancied No.1 seed, Milwaukee Bucks, in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, doing so by taking the series 4-1. The emphatic performance comes after a perfect first-round account, in which the Heat swept the Indiana Pacers in four straight victories.

On the back of an 8-1 SU record in the postseason, the Heat is proving to be the best team in the playoffs. Even the league’s MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, didn’t have an answer to Miami’s scorching tempo through the playoffs.

What Miami lacks in glittering star power it makes up for in teamwork. Jimmy Butler has been a standout on the roster, averaging 23 points per game against the Bucks. He’s the unquestionable leader of the team, both on the hardwood and in the locker-room.

However, the sum total of all the team’s parts is responsible for this fairy-tale run through the playoffs rather than just one talisman player. Miami has plenty of options with Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic playing consistently, as well as Duncan Robinson, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, and Tyler Herro in the rotation. The weight of expectation is shared rather than it being a burden on one player.

Miami NBA Betting Trends

  • Miami Heat is 44.36-2 ATS overall, which includes a 3.5 winning margin on average and a +1.5 differential versus the spread.
  • Miami Heat is 46-32-2 in Over/Under betting this season
  • Miami Heat is 8-1 SU and ATS in the NBA playoffs
Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat reacts with teammates during the fourth quarter after their win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

NBA Betting Verdict:

The NBA betting line on offer couldn’t be any tighter than it is, nestled delicately on 1.5 points with Boston to the good and Miami in dog territory. It’s one of those betting lines that makes one haw and hum. Its very tightness is the clear implication that it could go either way. At this point in time, it’s more of a tossup or a pick’em when the difference amounts to just one bucket.

The Heat are well-rested and sat poolside after finishing their last series in five games. By contrast, the Celtics have gone the distance in the last lap around the NBA playoffs. That's likely to take its toll on Boston.

The positive takeaway from all that court time for the Celtics is being game-ready and fit. Buoyed by their hard-fought win, if the Celtics can channel that momentum in Game 1 of the series, they might catch Miami flatfooted after days and days of rest. As such, the NBA pick on top sportsbooks is to lay the points with Boston.

NBA Pick: Boston Celtics -1.5 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Celtics -1.5(-110)
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