Celtics vs. Heat Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Boston Celtics will ride the momentum of consecutive wins into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference against the Miami Heat Saturday night. The Celtics are finally showing signs of life after falling into an 0-3 hole and have a chance to send this series back to Boston for a seventh game if they can pick up another road win.
Can the Celtics continue their push for a historic comeback, or will the Heat rally and take the next step on their improbable postseason run? Let’s break down where the edges are in this matchup and discuss a betting prediction for Game 6 in the Celtics vs. Heat betting preview.
The Celtics have completely flipped the script on their season over the last six quarters. They started the second half of Game 4 down six points and then gave up a 3-pointer to Max Strus on a long rebound to go down by nine points. That moment felt like it could have been the end of their season, but they chose not to quit and Jayson Tatum quickly responded with two 3s in a row to cut into the Heat lead. The Celtics’ energy ramped up and they ended up dominating the second half winning by 23 in the half and by 17 in the game.
Game 5 felt like a continuation of that energetic second-half performance. Their sense of urgency was apparent to start the game. They pressured the ball, forced turnovers, got out in transition and got a few dunks, an ideal way to start a game in front of their home crowd. They carried that momentum with them throughout the next three quarters in route to another blowout win. Now they must travel down to Miami on one day of rest to do it all again.
The Celtics have looked like a new team, but it is difficult to sustain that level of urgency throughout multiple games and it is especially difficult when you factor in travel and having just a day of rest. In Game 4, the Celtics 63.7% Effective Field Goal Percentage (92nd percentile) due in part to their hot shooting (40% on 3s) from beyond the arc. That wasn’t an outlier, we saw the Celtics do it all season, but we should expect these numbers to come down a bit on the road in my opinion.
Boston certainly generated great looks but it is hard to believe that Derrick White and Marcus Smart are combining for 10 3s on 63% from downtown again. Jaylen Brown also got multiple contested jump shots to go in pivotal moments. Again, I am not arguing that this is completely unrepeatable, I simply believe that context is necessary before we start claiming that the Heat are in trouble.
Defensively, the Celtics were great, as they allowed minimal paint penetration and made everything hard on the Heat. The Celtics did a great job of defending without fouling, as they committed just nine fouls and gave up 10 total free throws in Game 5. Their Free-Throw Rate allowed was 8.5 (95th percentile). In the previous four games in this series, the Celtics had allowed Free-Throw attempt rates of 28.0, 22.4, 19.6, and 18.1.
Game 5 was by far their best defensive performance of the series as they forced Miami’s role players to actually make shots to beat them. Kevin Love, Haywood Highsmith, and Caleb Martin combined to take 27 total shots, good for 35% of the Heat’s overall shot attempts. Highsmith and Martin didn’t shoot poorly, but anytime the Celtics defense can force Martin to take two more attempts than Jimmy Butler, they will be satisfied with their process. Butler shot 5-of-10 from the floor with 14 points, five assists, and five rebounds. His 24.3% Usage Rate was the lowest of the series by a full five percentage points. The Celtics did a great job of forcing other guys to beat them and they should continue the same strategy heading into Game 6 given the Heat’s injuries.
The Heat looked cooked from the first quarter in Game 5. They didn’t come out with the level of urgency and attention to detail necessary to win a road playoff game. Any team that turns the ball over on 20% of its possessions is going to have a tough time winning playoff games. The Heat didn’t shoot poorly — 57.7% eFG% (73rd percentile) and 42% on 3s in Game 5 — they just lost the math game in terms of total 3-point shot attempts. The Celtics attempted 16 more 3-pointers and nine more free throws than the Heat.
Digging into individual player performances, the Heat got a 6-of-9 night from Highsmith and a 7-of-10 night from Duncan Robinson. That should be a concern for the Heat because they are going to need their deep bench guys to step-up in hit shots if Gabe Vincent remains out and it is hard to believe we are going to see a repeat performances from those players. Highsmith and Martin were their most consistent role players on both ends. I would be eyeing Highsmith’s overs as I actually expect him to play somewhere close to 25 minutes once again if Vincent remains out of the lineup.
Kyle Lowry was completely unplayable in Game 5, while Robinson and Love are both cones on defense. Highsmith was the only guy to play 30-plus minutes for the Heat and actually win his minutes (+2). The Heat had a +6.5 Net Rating with Highsmith on the court. Expect Highsmith’s minutes to increase or stay the same and expect Lowry, Robinson, and Love to play less as Miami attempts to find five guys who can all guard and make shots for this must-win home game.
Malcolm Brogdon is questionable for Game 6 as he continues to play through a partial torn tendon in his right elbow. This will hurt the Celtics offense as Brogdon has been an extremely effective offensive piece for them all post-season. Losing more ball-handlers is an issue for the Celtics’ offense as Tatum and Brown have proven time and time again that they aren’t the best at taking care of the ball. Highsmith and Martin should see extended run for the Miami Heat as the Heat try and find a way to get stops on the defensive end. These developments have me leaning towards the total.
Butler should see significantly more usage in Game 6 and while that may increase the offensive efficiency of the Heat, I expect it to simultaneously slow down the pace of the game. Butler has been a top-three playoff player in back-to-back seasons, but he plays at a methodical pace. If we see the ball in his hands more, I think we’ll also see more late shot-clock scenarios and an overall slower pace throughout the game. These teams are becoming more and more familiar with each other and that should lead to better defense.
The Heat will come into Game 6 with an emphasis on taking care of the ball, leading to a slower pace, and forcing the Celtics to play in the halfcourt. I expect the Celtics to regress offensively as they are forced to go against Heat lineups without Lowry, Love, or Robinson. I expect Game 6 to have Game 7 intensity and I already took the under at 211.5. I would play this down to 210.
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