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Momentum is behind the 2-seed Boston Celtics (1-3) as they host the 8-seed Miami Heat (3-1) for Game 5 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals (ECF) at the TD Garden in Beantown for an 8:30 p.m. ET tip-off.
Boston fought off elimination by crushing Miami 116-99 in Game 4 Tuesday. The Celtics made their series-best 18 threes Tuesday. Boston wing Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 33 points on 63.6% shooting.
In fact, Boston hit 10 threes in Games 1-2 and 11 in Game 3. The other difference in Game 4 was ball security. Miami was +14 in turnover differential through the 1st three games of the ECF but lost the turnover battle 15-10 in Game 4.
Entering Game 5, the Heat are winning three of the “four factors” in this series. Miami wing Jimmy Butler has been the best player in the ECF. Butler has a higher net rating (nRTG) than Tatum (+7 nRTG vs. -3 nRTG).
Furthermore, the Celtics haven’t played better in their home gym. Boston is 4-5 straight up and against the spread at home in these playoffs with a -3.3 spread differential.
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics Game 5
- Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
It feels like all the NBA talking heads expect the Celtics to send the ECF to a Game 6. But, I think the Heat wrap this series up in Boston Thursday because the Celtics are too 3-point dependent.
Boston’s offense is fairly simple and Miami’s defense has been its strength all season. The Celtics dribble, drive, and chuck 3s. Half of their field goal attempts in Game 4 came from behind the arc.
However, Boston got good looks from deep Tuesday because Miami missed a bunch of easy shots and turned the ball over too much. Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Heat were 4-for-14 on short-mid-range shots.
If these shots went down, Miami would’ve been able to get its defense set. The Celtics would be inbounding the ball instead of getting out in transition with several Heat players still under their own basket.
Miami has more ways it can win whereas Boston needs to get hot from 3-point land. Evidence of the Celtics’ weak half-court offense is seen in their “clutch” nRTG. “Clutch” is when a game has a 5-point margin with five minutes remaining.
Well, Miami’s “clutch” nRTG in the Eastern Conference Finals is +70.2! Plus, the Heat are out-scoring the Celtics by 6.2 points per 100 half-court plays run in this series, according to CTG.
They have come from behind down double digits in both Games 1 and 2. If the Heat can make this a two-possession game inside the final five minutes, I’m confident Butler and Miami will pull it out.
BET: Heat +8 (-105) and ‘sprinkle’ on Miami’s ML (+250)
- Betting strategy: Risk 1.05 units (u) on the Heat’s spread and sprinkle a 0.25u on Miami’s ML, if you bet it at all. For example, 1u = $100.
Miami big Bam Adebayo Player Combo Prop: 29.5 Points, Rebounds & Assists (“PRA”)
- OVER 29.5 PRA: -120
- Under 29.5 PRA: -110
While I know you cannot “coach your bets,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra must know he needs to get Adebayo more involved with Miami’s offense.
The Heat won the 1st three games of this series. Bam had a 125 offensive rating in Game 1, 130 in Game 2, and 126 in Game 3. But, in Game 4, Adebayo’s offensive rating was 78.
These teams have met three times in the last four postseasons. Bam essentially plays well in all of the Heat’s playoff wins over the Celtics. Also, more of Miami’s offense should run through Bam since Heat PG Gabe Vincent will miss Game 5.
Adebayo is a good passer and operates as a “point forward” for Miami at times. If Bam is wreaking havoc on the interior then Boston’s perimeter defense will collapse, opening up quality looks for the Heat’s 3-point shooters.
BET: Heat big Bam Adebayo OVER 29.5 Player Combo (-120)
- Betting strategy: Always shop around for the best number, especially when betting on player props. I’m only betting to win a 0.25u on Adebayo’s “PRA”.
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