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US Sports Betting Industry Expert
The Eastern Conference Finals will wrap up with the two best words in sports: Game 7. The Miami Heat will host the Boston Celtics on Sunday night in the do-or-die matchup. Coverage on ESPN begins at 8:30 p.m. ET from FTX Arena.
Behind a generational performance from superstar Jimmy Butler, the Heat staved off elimination with a 111-103 victory in Boston in Game 6. After being limited the last two games due to right knee inflammation, Butler flamed the Celtics for 47 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and a block. His 47 points (16-for-29 overall, 4-for-8 on 3-pointers, 11-for-11 from the free throw line) are a career playoff high and the second-most by a player in a playoff win facing elimination on the road, according to The Associated Press.
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A rejuvenated Butler erupted for 14 points in the first quarter and 17 points in the fourth quarter to ensure the series headed back to Miami. The Celtics went ahead 97-94 on a 3-pointer from Derrick White with less than five mins to go, but the Heat responded with an 11-2 run, including a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Kyle Lowry.
Lowry, dealing with a hamstring issue since the first round, came through with a gutsy performance after going scoreless in Game 5. The point guard finished with a double-double (18 points, 10 assists) prior to fouling out.
The Heat were again without Tyler Herro, the Sixth Man of the Year, who missed his third straight contest with a groin injury and remains questionable for Game 7.
Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Reserve Derrick White exploded for 22 points (11 in the fourth quarter) as well for the Celtics. Jaylen Brown went for 20 points before fouling out.
After going 7-for-45 from the 3-point line in Game 5, the Heat warmed back up with 15 conversions, including timely ones from Lowry, Butler, and Max Strus.
Both teams shot excellently at the free throw line, with the Heat making 24 of their 25 attempts, while the Celtics went 28-for-31.
The Celtics are favored by 2.5 points in Game 7. This comes after the Celtics were favored by 8.5 points in the closeout home Game 6. The Celtics are 11-1 against the spread in their last 12 road contests and 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games in Miami.
The Heat are 13-7 SU in their last 20 contests and 10-2 SU in their last 12 home games but lost the last two.
The over/under is set for 196 points, despite the OVER happening in Game 6. The total has gone OVER in four of the last six Heat games and 11 of the last 16 matchups between the teams. Points will be hard to come by in a Game 7 featuring two elite defenses, so count on the UNDER.
In what could be an epic instant classic, it’s either going to be the Heat’s second trip to the Finals in the last three seasons or the first for the Celtics since 2010. The underdog Heat will cover the spread and take the East crown for the seventh time in franchise history.
Written by Rolando Rosa, our US sports betting industry expert.