Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals is set for Tuesday, and the Miami Heat will face off against the Boston Celtics. The first team to four wins will punch a ticket to the NBA Finals, and the two sides are very familiar with one another.
The Heat blew by the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks in their first two rounds, which was shocking to see from the fifth-seeded team in the conference. Goran Dragic’s return to the starting lineup, Jimmy Butler’s ability to draw fouls, and quality performances from role players like Tyler Herro and Jae Crowder have helped Miami power through its opponents.
The Celtics swept the undermanned 76ers in the first round before being pushed to seven games by the defending champion Toronto Raptors. Despite losing Gordon Hayward to an ankle injury in Game 1 of the first round, Boston has been able to play at a very high level. Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum give Boston a ton of scoring, and Marcus Smart has provided energy in the starting lineup while replacing Hayward, who is expected to make a return at some point in the series.
Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming
Tuesday’s game will take place at 6:40 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Point Spread, Totals, Odds
Point spread: Celtics (-1.5)
Point Total: O/U 209.5
Money line: Celtics (-120), Heat (+102)
The Best Bet: Jaylen Brown to score the most points (+450)
Jayson Tatum (+110) is easily the best offensive player in this game, but I expect the Heat to throw everything they can at him on the defensive end. They were able to hold Giannis Antetokounmpo under 25 points three times in four games during the second round, and Tatum is only averaging 21 points per game against Miami. Brown is averaging 24.7 points per game against the Heat and will have a matchup advantage. He’ll likely be defended by Duncan Robinson, and his athleticism could help him dominate off the dribble.
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