The Eastern Conference Finals begins on Tuesday with the Boston Celtics taking on the Miami Heat in South Beach. Boston won two of three against Miami during the regular season, winning the lone matchup in Miami early in the season. The two franchises have met twice in the conference finals previously, both times the Heat coming out on top.
Game one of the best-of-seven series tips off at 8:30 p.m. EST inside FTX Arena in Miami, FL. The Heat are a 1.5-point favorite in the opener, and the over-under total is 204.0 points.
What to Know – Boston Celtics
Boston was the two-seed in the East and knocked off Brooklyn and Milwaukee to get here. The Celtics return to the conference finals for the 21st time in franchise history, second-most in the NBA behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
Forward Jayson Tatum paced the Celtics in scoring during the regular season and has kept that going in the postseason. Tatum is scoring 28.3 points per game, shooting 43.8% from the field and 38.6% from the arc.
Shooting guard Jaylen Brown adds 22.2 points per game, hitting 48.4% of his attempts from the floor and knocking down 37.3% from three. Brown and Tatum will have to step-up the offensive production if the Celtics’ third-leading scorer Marcus Smart is unable to go in Tuesday’s opener.
Boston is 51-42-2 against the spread this season and 5-1 ATS over its last six games. The Celtics own a 30-16 mark ATS away from home.
What to Know – Miami Heat
Miami was the top seed in the Eastern Conference after producing the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. The Heat return to the conference finals for the ninth time in franchise history and just the second time since appearing in four straight from 2010-14.
The Miami offense runs through forward Jimmy Butler. The six-time All-Star is pouring in 28.7 points per game thanks to 52.5% shooting from the field. Butler can do it all for the Heat, adding 7.6 rebounds and dishing 5.4 assists per game.
Center Bam Adebayo chips in 14.6 points per game, and Tyler Herro adds 13.8. Adebayo is hitting nearly 60% of his shots from the floor (59.4%) in the playoffs and has reached double-figures in eight of the last nine playoff games.
The Heat are 53-39-1 ATS this year with a 26-21 record ATS on their home floor. Miami is 6-13 ATS over its previous 19 contests playing Boston at home.
The Pick is In
Miami and Boston meet in the playoffs for the fifth time, and this time as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Heat had the best record at home during the regular season and haven’t dropped a home game yet this postseason.
The Heat had no issues beating the Sixers without starting point guard Kyle Lowry for the final four games of the series, but with Lowry still out, the Celtics steal one on the road and jump out front, 1-0.
Betting Pick: Boston Celtics +1.5