This has been a common playoff matchup in the last few years as Boston and Miami met on this stage in 2022 and 2020. The two teams split those meetings, though neither went on to win the championship. The Celtics, who finished with the second-best regular-season record in the league, have faced quite a bit of resistance so far in the postseason from the Hawks and 76ers while the Heat, who entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed via the play-in tournament, dispatched the top-seeded Bucks in five games and eliminated the Knicks in six.
Below are a handful of betting picks, trends and a key question for Game 1, which begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Jaylen Brown Sees a Scoring Bump: Bet Brown Over 24.5 Points
Browns scoring in the semifinals against the 76ers dropped 22.9 points per game, but he was just as efficient as he was in Round 1, when he averaged 26.7 against the Hawks. The only real difference was a decrease in his attempts from 20.3 to 15.6. Brown was aggressive in three regular-season meetings with Miami — he scored 28, 26 and 37 points in those games and went for a playoff career-high 40 points in Game 3 of the 2022 ECF against the Heat. After Jayson Tatums 51-point performance, Miami will be rightfully focused on slowing him down, which could create extra opportunities for Brown, whos shooting a scorching 47.1% from three in the postseason. His points prop is set at 24.5 with just a bit of juice (-118) on the over.
Gabe Vincent Keeps Dishing Dimes: Bet Vincent Over 3.5 Assists
Vincent is second on the team in assists per game in the playoffs behind Jimmy Butler at 4.8. Hes gone over his 3.5-assist total (-115) in eight straight games dating back to Game 4 of the Bucks series and has only failed to hit four dimes twice across 11 playoff games. The Celtics allow the second-fewest assists per game in the playoffs (20.8), but this has been a relatively easy mark for Vincent to clear.
Max Strus Stays Hot: Bet Strus Over 11.5 Points
Strus struggled against Milwaukee but he was an integral part of Miamis offense in the New York series. His scoring and shots per game more than doubled to 14.7 points and 11.2 field goal attempts per game. Strus scored 14 or more points in the final five games of the series and also took 10 three-pointers in three of those games. With that many attempts from deep, Strus, a career 37.1% shooter from behind the arc, should easily be able to clear his 11.5-point prop (-122) for Game 1, just as hes done in each of his last five games.
Will the Heat Get Back on Track Against the Spread?
Miami began the playoffs on fire against the spread with eight covers — and five upset wins — over its first nine games. The Heat did not cover either of the final two games against the Knicks as a 3.5-point underdog and then as a six-point favorite in the decisive game, though. Meanwhile, the Celtics, who began the postseason 6–5 against the spread, have rounded into form and covered their last two as a 2.5- and six-point favorite. Boston, an eight-point favorite at home, failed to cover the spread the last time it was favored by this many points while Miami has a handful of outright wins in games it entered as an underdog of eight or more points.
NBA Playoffs Betting Record: 18–18
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