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The Boston Celtics (0-2) got punked at home by the Miami Heat (2-0) in the 1st two games of the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Game 3 tips off at the Kaseya Center in Miami Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
I got to be honest, I hate this Boston team. Whether I bet for or against the Celtics, they screw me. Friday was the latest instance when Boston failed to cover -5.5 in the 1st half of its 111-105 Game 2 loss.
For reasons unbeknownst, Celtics backup F Grant Williams poked the bear, Playoff Jimmy Butler, in Game 2 Friday. And that bear mauled Williams and the Celtics.
Williams got in Butler’s face after hitting a 4th-quarter 3-pointer. The Heat responded with a 26-9 run to end Game 2. Butler scored 13 points when Williams guarded him in Game 2 on 6-of-7 shooting.
Miami is out-performing Boston in three of the “four factors” in the ECF. The Heat are winning the battle of possessions (rebounds and turnovers) and has a higher effective field goal rate. While the Celtics have a higher free-throw-attempt rate.
Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Game 3 odds
- Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum has better numbers than Butler in the ECF but is crapping himself in the 4th quarter. Tatum hasn’t made a field goal in the 4th quarter of Games 1 and 2.
All 11 of his 4th-quarter points in this series have come from the foul line. Tatum also has 5 bone-headed turnovers and hasn’t been up to the moment in the clutch.
Although perhaps I’m being too hard on Tatum because
What’s up with Celtics All-Star SF Jaylen Brown?
Tatum’s teammate, and fellow All-Star, Jaylen Brown has been awful in the ECF. Brown is averaging just 19.0 points per game (PPG) on 41.5% true shooting (.386/.154/.500) in this series.
Brown’s 83 offensive rating is well below Tatum’s 121 offensive rating. Even more alarming is that Brown has only attempted four free throws through the 1st two games.
Jaylen isn’t involved in Boston’s offense and iso’s too much whenever he gets the ball. The bottom line is Brown needs to be more aggressive if the Celtics want to keep their season alive.
Bettors aren’t buying into ‘Heat Culture’
If Miami wins Game 3, this series is all but over. But, the sports betting market refuses to give up on Boston. Per VSIN, roughly 75% of the action at DraftKings is on Boston as of Sunday afternoon ET.
Maybe everyone three-fourths of the market is following ESPN Analytics. The Celtics opened as -1 favorites in Game 3 and the one-sided betting action toward Boston pushed it up to the current odds of Celtics -4.
This line movement is too big because the Heat are much better in the “clutch,” which is when the game is within five points inside the final five minutes.
Miami leads the NBA playoffs in “clutch” net rating (nRTG) at +28.6 while Boston is 9th with a -5.9 nRTG. The 1st two games in the ECF have gone to “clutch” time. The Heat have a +70.2 “clutch” nRTG in this series.
Role players perform better at home
The Heat are a perfect 5-0 straight up (SU) at home this postseason with a +11.6 SU margin and 4-1 against the spread. Miami isn’t a tough place to play and the Heat are a Stars (Butler and Bam Adebayo) and Scrubs team.
However, Butler and Bam are two of the best players in ECF. All Miami needs is one or two of its role players to step up. The Heat got 25 points from backup F Caleb Martin in Game 2.
Miami has a bunch of Martin-like players that have come through this postseason such as PG Gabe Vincent, 3-point marksman Duncan Robinson and SG Max Strus. Heat vets Kevin Love and Kyle Lowry can randomly be difference-makers.
BET: Miami Heat +4 (-110), down to +3.5
PS Player Prop: Boston Celtics SF Jayson Tatum Point Prop: 30.5
- Over 30.5 points: -110
- UNDER 30.5 POINTS: -120
For the record, I like Tatum and agree with his All-NBA status. Maybe not his 1st-Team All-NBA status but Tatum should make one of the three teams. That said, Tatum isn’t a lock to drop 30 on the road in the playoffs.
Tatum has scored 31 points in just one of his six road games in these playoffs. That was in the 1st-round vs. the Atlanta Hawks who play way worse defense than the Heat.
He scored 31 and 49 points in two of the four Celtics-Heat regular-season meetings. But, just 29 and 14 points in the other two. Butler played in the two games Tatum failed to score 31 points and missed Tatum’s best two games vs. Miami.
The Heat have three elite defensive wings to throw at Brown and Tatum including Butler, Bam, and Martin. If Tatum is going to score 30-plus, he’ll need to make tough shots on top of high usage.
Also, Tatum is 2nd in usage rate this series on Boston behind Brown. Given Brown’s struggles in the ECF, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to get Brown going early.
Lastly, the price point for Tatum’s point prop is telling. The UNDER is juiced, which suggests the sportsbooks either have liability on the UNDER or are trying to steer bettors into backing the Over.
BET: Celtics’ Jayson Tatum UNDER 31.5 points (-120)
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