Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Celtics at Heat Preview
By Tony Mejia
Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS)
Betting Odds Breakdown
The Heat opened as a 3-point home favorite with a total of 216.5.
The Celtics have split their last 10 games to fall behind Toronto in the Atlantic Division race, but they’ll get back home for four of the next five after wrapping up a three-game road trip in South Florida. Boston has 6-to-1 odds per the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win the Eastern Conference, which ranks third behind only the Bucks (5/8) and 76ers (6/1). They haven’t had many games where all their regular rotation pieces have been healthy, so Boston is grinding nicely through the marathon and would likely improve significantly if they can get everyone on the same page after the All-Star break.
The Heat routed the Magic on Monday night to improve to 21-2 at AmericanAirlines Arena, matching Milwaukee and Philadelphia for the NBA’s top home record. They padded their lead in the Southeast to 12 games, the biggest advantage any division leader holds on the second-place team. The Heat are still under .500 in away games and will play out of a seven of the next eight on the road following this matchup. Westgate has them as a 12-to-1 choice to win the East and 50-to-1 to win the title, which may just be the best value longshot out there.
The Celtics have suffered through a pair of three-game losing streaks this month after going the first few months without having that happen, so they’ve actually got a 7-7 (.500) record in 2020. This is their longest road trip since they left for the West Coast from Nov. 15-22 so we’ll see how they bounce back from giving up 123 points in Sunday night’s nationally-televised loss at New Orleans. Four of their six worst defensive efforts where they’ve surrendered over 120 points have come this month. Forward Jayson Tatum is considered ‘doubtful’ with a right groin strain and center Enes Kanter has been ruled out with a hip contusion, so Brad Stevens’ group will again be shorthanded. Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis should see the bulk of the minutes.
Miami got a triple-double from Bam Adebayo to help put away the Magic on Monday. The Heat put the clamps on Orlando defensively and held an opponent under 100 points for the first since Jan. 2 and only the second time since mid-November. Jimmy Butler has been dealing with an ankle sprain that he played through against Orlando and Goran Dragic has been dealing with a calf injury, so it will be interesting to see if both suit up for the second night of a back-to-back. Rookie standout guard Kendrick Nunn is dealing with an Achilles issue and has missed the past few games, which has allowed Dion Waiters a chance to get back in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro have each had big games shooting it of late and take Miami to another level when they catch fire. The Heat are 8-5 (7-6 ATS) this month.
Miami will look to even the score after being routed in Boston the only time these teams have met so far this season. The Celtics won 112-94 on Dec. 4, riding 31 points from Jaylen Brown and 28 from Kemba Walker. The Heat have had their share of blowout losses this season and got bit at TD Garden after struggling to defend the 3-pointer, giving up 16 makes. Butler scored 37 points in the loss and bemoaned the team’s lack of cohesion on the defensive end. Assistant Dan Craig filled in for Spoelstra, who left to attend the birth of his second son. Smart was absent due to illness. The teams will see each other twice in April, which could get very interesting in terms of seeding. The Celtics have won the last four matchups, but only one of those games were played in Miami.
Inside the Stats (Away/Home)
Points Per Game:
Boston 112.3 (108.5)
Miami 112.2 (116.4)
Boston 105.6 (104.6)
Miami 108.3 (105.9)
-- Boston 12-10 SU, 12-9-1 ATS
-- Miami 21-2 SU, 16-7 ATS
Situational (Eastern Conference Matchup)
The Celtics have a conference mark of 20-9, which ranks top-five in the East. Boston has lost three of its last four conference road games.
The Heat have covered in 16 of 23 home games and have suffered only six setbacks against East foes, second-lowest behind the Bucks. They’re 14-0 against the conference at the Triple-A.
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Betcha Didn’t Know
This will be the ninth back-to-back the Heat have played in and they’ve gotten decisively better since a disastrous start. Miami dropped its first four games on the second night but have a 3-1 run going to improve to 3-5 for the season. They swept both sets of the back-to-back that was exclusively played at home.
NBA Expert Picks – Tony Mejia
Bam Adebayo is making his All-Star push and Butler seems to be gutting it out through ankle pain, so a depleted Celtics squad isn’t worth backing here even with the Heat playing the second of a back-to-back. With Jayson Tatum unlikely to go and Enes Kanter ruled out, Boston will have to rely on defense to hang around and won’t have much room for error in a venue where the Heat have made magic happen in winning 21 of 23. Ride Miami.
Best Bet: Heat
VI Prediction Tool
The VegasInsider.com Prediction resource gives an edge to either team in eight specific categories listed above and there are instances where both clubs receive a positive edge (). Depending on how you weigh the below factors could provide more reason to fade or follow those teams in your wagers.
|VI Edge Predictions|
Total Talk (Over-Under)
Boston: 20-25 (Away, 7-15 Under)
Miami: 28-18 (Home, 15-8 Over)
The Celtics have been an ‘under’ team on the road this season and come in 2-0 to the low side on this trip. The ‘under’ has connected in four of the last five road games involving Boston and is on a 3-0 overall streak.
The Heat had been on an 8-2 ‘over’ run before defeating the Magic and did their part offensively in Monday’s rout. The high side is 10-4 in Miami’s last 14 home games.