This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
Round 1 Recap
Top Performers vs. Bucks
- Jimmy Butler (40.0 Fantasy Points)
- Bam Adebayo (39.4 FP)
- Goran Dragic (34.4 FP)
The Heat were able to pull off the shocking upset over the Bucks – one of the best regular-season teams ever – in just five games. Miami outscored Milwaukee by over six points per 100 possessions, largely fueled by excellent scoring of Jimmy Butler (23.4 PPG on 53/46/85 shooting) and Goran Dragic (19.8 PPG on 44/35/85 shooting). It was still a balanced effort, however, as Bam Adebayo, Jae Crowder and Tyler Herro combined for 45.6 PPG. Adebayo shot 60.0 percent from the field and 89.7 percent from the charity stripe, while Crowder and Herro both hit over 42 percent of their triples.
Top Performers vs. Raptors
- Jayson Tatum (45.7 FP)
- Jaylen Brown (39.5)
- Kemba Walker (32.9 FP)
- Marcus Smart (32.8 FP)
After initially going up 2-0 in the series, the Celtics almost choked, as the Raptors forced a Game 7. Boston managed to come away with the victory, however, and they'll now face Miami. While Jayson Tatum's shooting inside the arc left something to be desired, he still scored 170 points on 130 shots in the series, not to mention 72 rebounds and 37 assists. Jaylen Brown was the only other Celtics player to score at least 20 points per game (20.7), but his shooting wasn't particularly good (43/28/86). Kemba Walker also couldn't find his shot (42/28/83) though handed out 43 assists to just 14 turnovers. Marcus Smart caught fire from long range, tying Fred VanVleet for the most made threes in the series (24) on 39.3 percent.
Regular Season Meetings
Boston dominated this three-game series during the regular season, but there are some important caveats. Two of the games were played before the trade deadline, so Miami didn't have Jae Crowder or Andre Iguodala. And, the following players only played in two of the games: Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler.
For the Heat, Butler (28.5 PPG on 16.0 FGA) and Dragic (21.5 PPG on 13.0 FGA) played well, while Tyler Herro was ineffective (7.3 PPG on 10.3 FGA). For the Celtics, Brown led the team in scoring (24.7 PPG on 19.7 FGA), while Hayward (22.0 PPG on 13.5 FGA) and Tatum (21.0 PPG on 15.0 FGA) were not far behind. Smart struggled, scoring just 7.0 PPG on 9.0 FGA.
The DraftKings sportsbook is predicting a close series, with the Celtics -130 favorites and the Heat +105 underdogs. The most likely outcome is projected as Boston winning the series 4-2, which pays out +420. Betting the series to go over 5.5 games pays out -182 while betting the series to go under 5.5 games pays out +148. For Game 1, the spread is set at Boston -1.5 with a total of 209.5.
In the playoffs, the Heat are averaging 112.1 points per game while the Celtics are posting 107.6, suggesting the over should hit. That said, Miami is 12th in the playoffs in pace (96.4) and the Celtics are 13th (96.2), so the nature of these teams is to grind games out. That checks out given that the Celtics have the best defensive rating in the playoffs (102.0) while the Heat are fourth (106.3). In terms of the Game 1 spread, taking the Heat could be advantageous considering their significant rest advantage.