Heat vs Celtics Conference Finals Game 5 betting preview: Miami rare home underdog for decisive showdown
Good luck predicting the 2022 NBA playoffs. Every game it seems like the pendulum swings excessively in the direction of the other team and there have been blowouts galore. Either the final score is unbalanced or it gets closer to the end than the final score indicates due to the time limit.
That’s how, say, Bam Adebayo goes from a 31-10-6 in Game 3 to fading in the Miami Heat’s lopsided 102-82 loss to Boston in Game 4. Adebayo isn’t the only one. starter to blame, however. He was just part of a historic and revolting departure from visitors.
The Heat’s last performance was so pathetic that they’re actually an underdog in Miami for only the sixth time this season. Boston enters Wednesday as a 2.5-point favorite at the time of this writing. It’s time to dive a little deeper and break down this massive Game 5 matchup.
Jimmy Buckets’ squeaky knee a red flag for Miami
I would say the general state of health of jimmy Butler (OR 24.5 points) will go a long way in deciding tonight’s contest. Although the Heat managed to win without him in the second half of Game 3 on the road, Butler was hobbled and largely ineffective in Game 3 and 4. After scoring 41 points to start the Eastern Conference Finals and then going with 32 points, Jimmy Buckets has only scored 14 points in his last two starts.
Knee pain was the cause of Butler’s drastic drop in form. This guy is the heart and soul of the so-called Heat Culture. Much like he did in the Orlando bubble in 2020, he found new playoff gear as a versatile offensive force. Unfortunately, it has a bad wheel. With such a short time between games, Butler doesn’t have much time to recover.
As stoned as the Celtics are with Robert Williams and Marcus Smart listed as questionable Going into Game 5, no injury impacts this streak more than Butler’s. Therefore, bookmakers count Miami (+118), despite going 10-1 SU in their last 11 home games.
Boston’s star power trumps Heat’s depth
NBA first-team member Jayson Tatum’s shoulder is apparently fine, considering he netted 31 points in Monday’s huge victory. The crazy thing is that Jaylen Brown, who I predicted would hit his top scoring prop, was an atrocious 5 for 20 from the field and scored just 12 points. The fact that the Celtics still managed to win by 20 tells you that they at least have comparable depth to the Heat, but I would still give Miami the edge in that department. However, there is no question of which top players have the most juice.
The thing is, I would trust Tatum more right now than Butler, and even Brown over whoever is Miami’s No. 2 scoring option. I know Al Horford (OR 8.5 rebounds) isn’t what it used to be. Still, he’s a five-time All-Star who, along with Robert Williams, virtually rendered Adebayo worthless for the end of the series. Horford has 27 boards and seven blocks in his last two outings. At least that’s stardom on the defensive end.
I’m not taking anything away from Williams either. This stat here is downright insane:
Home team need ‘Dipo instead of a Herro
A lingering groin injury has limited Tyler Herro recently. The Young Stallion and reigning Sixth Man of the Year, who played such a crucial role in Miami’s 2020 bubble race to the NBA Finals, missed Game 4, and his status is up in the air for tonight. The following information does not bode well:
Herro is the type of bench spark plug the Heat desperately needs. It’s there that Victor Oladipo must come in and continue to shine. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is a brilliant tactician and a master at juggling lineups and reshuffling his rotation. As Kyle Lowry continues to be hampered by a bad hammy, Butler is hampered by his knee and Herro is probably unable to participate, I don’t see why Spo wouldn’t add Oladipo to the top five after his team record of 23 points in game 4.
What the hell is that? What must Oladipo do to get a starting spot over Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, undrafted former free agents who were given the go-ahead in Miami’s backcourt when Lowry was sidelined?
Keep an eye out for Oladipo’s props ahead of the whistleblower. They are not listed now given the Heat’s lengthy injury report with Strus, Vincent, Lowry, Herro and PJ Tucker all questionable. Either way, it might be worth hammering the Over on one of Oladipo’s props. The hope is that Oladipo can also help reduce Miami’s rebounding deficit, either by breaking the glass or simply providing a more effective score. Boston is averaging 45.8 boards per contest in this series compared to the Heat’s 38.5. You can attribute some of that to the Celtics’ higher effective FG % (54.5% to 49.6%).
The Celtics are as tough as teams come on the road
I mentioned earlier that Game 5 will only be the sixth time this iteration of the Heat will be at home. They went 4-1 ATS/SU in those situations, with an average point margin of +10.4. The thing is that the Celtics are one of the best road teams the NBA has seen in recent memory. They have a +7.4 point differential away from TD Garden and are the NBA’s best 31-16-1 ATS.
I feel like a broken record in these previews citing how well Boston fared under these circumstances. It’s still worth repeating, as the C’s have a chance to make it the third straight streak tonight they’ve had two wins on the road. Remember what happened the last time these teams met at the FTX Arena for Game 2. Celtics 127, Heat 102.
NBA Plays of the Day: Celtics -3.5 alt spread (+104) and Q2 moneyline (-110), Less than 204 points (-109), Al Horford Over 8.5 rebounds (-134)
The pluses were 10-3 going into Game 4 before Miami’s cold shot began, but guaranteed the minuses would hit. You would think that the tilt would be to come back to that side of the total points line. However, with Adebayo’s Game 3 monster looking like a complete aberration and the uncertainty over Butler’s health, I can’t help but go under here – and take Boston to cover the small spread. Tonight is so important (DUH). Both teams love to grind and play uncompromising defense. Possessions should be down. That total of 204 is damn low. Not sure it could be low enough to be honest.
I expect the Heat to start better than they did on Monday, mostly because, how can they be worse? Then the Celtics win the second quarter, which they have done in each of their last 10 games. It’s a valid bet at -110.
With Robert Williams’ player status uncertain, I like Horford knocking down at least nine boards tonight. Player props have been quite difficult for me lately. This one feels a bit more certain than recent ones due to the inherent unpredictability of those playoffs I mentioned in the intro.
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