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|Heat Win Percentage||31.24%|
|Celtics Win Percentage||68.76%|
|Heat-Celtics Over / Under||207.5|
|Game Date & Time||May 21st, 8:30 p.m. ET|
After two games, we can draw some conclusions on the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. The first is this: the Celtics have been better more consistently. Of the 8 quarters that have been played, Boston has won 5 of them, they’ve tied two of them, and the Heat have won 1 – they won that one quarter in a dominating fashion, but it is the only quarter they’ve won thus far.
The second conclusion we can draw is that with Kyle Lowry out, and the Celtics roster healthy, the Celtics are the better team defensively and from beyond the arc. The loss of Smart and Horford in Game 1 was spoken about at length, but not much has been made of the loss of Lowry in all but 5 playoff games this year so far.
If the Heat are to remain competitive in this series, Lowry needs to be able to take the floor. Finally, the biggest conclusion: while Jimmy Butler might be the most impressive individual player on the floor in this series, the Celtics through two games have shown that their roster is deeper & more consistent.
Going into Game 3, and the first game in Boston, the biggest question is whether or not the Heat will defend the 3-ball better while making their own threes.
In Game 2, the Celtics shot a blistering 20-of-40 from beyond the arc, while the Heat went a strikingly below average 10-of-34. Considering the final result was a 25 point difference, Game 2 would have been much closer if not an entirely different result if the Heat matched their season average of 37.9% from beyond the arc and the Celtics hit their seasonal average of 35.6% from beyond the arc.
The Heat would have hit 13 threes, while the Celtics would have hit 14. Can Miami heat up (pun very much intended) from beyond the arc while cooling down the Celtics barrage of threes? Or are they going to get out-shot under the bright lights in Boston?
For the Heat to win this, they’ll need production from more than just Jimmy Butler. Butler was the only player on the Heat roster to score over 15 points, and the only way to even reach double digits efficiently. Bam Adebayo in particular was less than assertive throughout the night, putting up 6/9/2 on 3-of-6 from the field.
If the Heat want to have a chance in this series, they need more from Bam, and they need more effective possessions from Tyler Herro, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent.
It’s easy to say, but the key for the Celtics is: replicate Game 2. After an early competitive start that had the Heat ahead, the Celtics blew the game open with a barrage of threes and never looked back en route to a 25-point lead going into halftime.
While there’s an expectation that the Celtics 3-point percentages regress to the mean (highly unlikely they shoot 50% from beyond the arc in back-to-back games), as long as they’re able to limit the Heat’s effectiveness from 3, the Celtics have a good chance of repeating their Game 2 success.
While I expect the Heat to come out stronger in Game 3, the energy and environment of TD Garden and the Boston faithful will be a tough spot to overcome for the Heat, particularly without Kyle Lowry. If Lowry comes back, this prediction could change, but as long as he’s out, I’ll be taking the Celtics -6.5, currently available for -105 at BetMGM.
The Celtics will win on their own court and take a 2-1 series lead, 116-105.