Expect this game to be a barnburner. The Miami Heat currently sits atop the Eastern Conference but it’s still a precarious situation, as the Boston Celtics (among others) loom large in their rearview mirror.
Catch this game live on Thursday, March 31, at 7:30 AM, Manila time
Away: Miami Heat (48-28/21-16 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Kyle Lowry
- SG: Max Strus
- SF: Jimmy Butler
- PF: P.J. Tucker
- C: Bam Adebayo
After a tumultuous stretch that saw the Heat lose four games in a row, Jimmy Butler and company have finally restored order in South Beach by trouncing the Sacramento Kings last Tuesday at home, 123-100. Up ahead for Miami is its first road game since a 113-106 loss in the City of Brotherly Love to the Philadelphia 76ers on Mar. 22. It appears that any turmoil within the Heat has been extinguished, which is terrific news for their chances to take down Boston. Butler paced the Heat in the Sacramento game with 27 points, while the tandem of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson came off the bench and gave Miami a massive shot in the arm with 35 points combined.
That kind of robust production from their relievers was missing in the previous two meetings this season with Boston which ended in losses for Miami, so Herro and Robinson (questionable with illness) might come off the bench anew for Thursday’s game. And with Boston losing Robert Williams for the rest of the season, Bam Adebayo might find more success against the Celtics after pouring in 22 points to go along with 15 rebounds in the clash with Sacramento. The Heat arrive in Beantown with a 9-3 record against the spread in their last 12 appearances at TD Garden.
Home: Boston Celtics (47-29/26-12 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Marcus Smart
- SG: Jaylen Brown
- SF: Jayson Tatum
- PF: Al Horford
- C: Daniel Theis
The Celtics ran into a brick wall in the form of the Toronto Raptors Tuesday, as they lost to the 2019 NBA champions on the road, 115-112. That loss snapped Boston’s six-game undefeated streak, but if anything, the Celtics have not suffered consecutive losses in over two months. They are 5-0 against the spread in their last five outings following a loss and will be facing Miami for the third time carrying a 5-2 ATS slate in their last seven outings at home. Boston’s loss to Toronto also carries little weight, considering that the Celtics’ big guns were not active in that contest.
Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Williams all didn’t suit up for the meeting with Toronto. Outside of Williams, all those players are expected to return to action in time for the huge matchup versus the Heat. With Williams out, the Celtics will be pushing for a frontcourt that will have a heavier dosage of Daniel Theis, who isn’t too shabby himself defensively. Speaking of which, the Celtics are No. 1 in the NBA with 104.0 points allowed per game and also tops in the league in adjusted defensive rating (106.4).
Spread: Sure, the Heat are coming off a rejuvenating win, but beating the Kings doesn’t prove a lot. The Celtics, even without Williams, is a much different animal, and with Brown and Tatum expected to be back and with fresh legs under them, Boston should be able to take care of business here. Still, I’m taking the Heat (+5) to cover, at the very least.
Over/Under: Given the importance of this game and the fact that both teams are in the bottom 10 in the league in terms of pace, I’m expecting it to be a tight one. Get the Under (214.0).