It’s time for the Eastern Conference finals, which will feature the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. Who draws first blood in the series?
Catch this game live on Wednesday, May 18, at 8:30 AM, Manila time
Away: Boston Celtics (0-0/0-0 Away)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Marcus Smart
- SG: Jaylen Brown
- SF: Jayson Tatum
- PF: Al Horford
- C: Robert Williams
Just when it looked as though their hopes of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals were circling down the drain in their Game 5 loss in the second round versus the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics turned things around with their exceptional defense. Boston held the Bucks to just an average of 83 points in the final two games of that series. Granted that the Bucks were missing Khris Middleton, it was still a team that is stacked with good shooters surrounding a generational superstar in Giannis Antetkounmpo.
This time around, the Celtics will not be dealing with a unicorn talent, so individually speaking, Boston should have an easier time keeping up with Miami defensively. Back in the regular season, the Celtics went 2-1 straight up versus Miami, including a 95-78 win in South Beach way back in November in a game where they held Jimmy Butler to just 8/18 shooting and the entire Heat roster to only 34.6 FG%.
The Celtics are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games in the postseason as an underdog.
Home: Miami Heat (0-0/0-0 Home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Gabe Vincent (questionable)
- SG: Max Strus (questionable)
- SF: Jimmy Butler
- PF: PJ Tucker (questionable)
- C: Bam Adebayo
One thing to know about the Heat is that they have yet to lose a home game, so far in the playoffs. They went 3-0 as the home team in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks and 3-0 again in the second round opposite the Philadelphia 76ers. The way the Heat tamed the offenses of the Hawks and the Sixers is nothing short of brilliant. While the Sixers did not have Joel Embiid in Games 1 and 2, the Hawks made James Harden look washed. They allowed just 97.4 points per game to Atlanta and only 97.5 points.
Overall in the playoffs, Miami leads all teams in scoring defense with just 97.5 points surrendered per contest. Apart from their suffocating defense, the Heat are also having success slowing down their opponents’ attacks in the postseason with great offensive rebounding. They are third in the playoffs with a 31.6 OREB% – a main reason why they are limiting playoff teams to just 78.3 field-goal attempts per game. Miami enters Wednesday’s game with an 8-1 ATS record in their last nine games.
Spread: The Celtics cover (+1.5).
Over/Under: The Under (203.5) hits.