NBA Odds: Lay the Chalk with Boston -3 as Hobbled Heat Face Celtics

David Lawrence

Sunday, February 1, 2015 1:30 PM GMT

Miami just can’t stay healthy for any prolonged length of time this season. A couple of years ago, this would have been an epic showdown. On Sunday, the Celtics are a three-point NBA odds favorite.

The Miami Heat Can Win Because…
There is new hope for this team in terms of interior defense. Hassan Whiteside has been one of the breakthrough stories in the NBA this season, and really just this past month. Whiteside’s 14-point, 13-rebound, 12-blocked shot performance a week ago against the Chicago Bulls, compiled in only 25 minutes, is still being talked about, and it’s going to continue to be a conversation piece among NBA fans, analysts, and executives. Whiteside’s combination of raw energy and fluid natural instincts gives Miami the kind of interior defender and rim protector it lacked during the LeBron James era. If the Heat still had their nucleus with LeBron but were also able to put Whiteside on the floor for 20 to 25 minutes per game, they’d be the runaway Eastern Conference favorites at this point. At any rate, even without both LeBron and Dwyane Wade, Whiteside is still the kind of high-impact player that can enable the Heat to win a game against a relatively similar opponent on the road.

Miami might be a modest 5-5 in its last 10 games, but Boston has been slightly worse at 4-6. The Celtics simply cannot play good defense. Boston has not given up fewer than 102 points in any loss since Dec. 27… when it gave up 101 points in a loss to Washington. The Celtics typically give up 105 points or more in losses, at least over the past month. Losses with fewer than 105 points allowed have been rare events for this team in 2015.

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The Boston Celtics Can Win Because…
Celtics are  a three-point NBA odds favorite tonight, they are playing a team that is not likely to have Dwyane Wade available for this game and Wade has recently said he has no real idea of when he’ll return to the lineup due to a hamstring strain that seems to be worse than a normal hamstring strain. The Heat know that they have to have Wade in decent shape if they’re going to make any kind of playoff run, so the organization will act with caution in sending the star player back to the court. The Heat will err on the side of playing it safe. Without Wade, it will become that much more difficult for this team to find baskets. Miami averages 93.1 points per game, the third-worst total in the whole NBA. This team just can’t generate the kinds of shots it used to get.

One other thing which needs to be said is that while Boston is 4-6 in its last 10 games, the Celtics have played a ruthless schedule. The Cs have played the Clippers, Atlanta, Portland, and Golden State in their last 10 games. They’re getting beaten by really good teams. Against the hobbled Heat, the reality of the situation should be different.

 

Outlook
The Heat are continuing to battle the limitations imposed by injuries. It’s hard to expect a team to continue to compete well when so much adversity hits. Boston’s results haven’t been there the past 10 games, but strength of schedule has been a big reason why. The Heat will be a manageable opponent for Boston at home. Take the Celtics with your NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Celtics -3 at Bodog

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