This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
Wednesday night brings us Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Heat. Taking a break from the every-other day schedule to allow the Western Conference to catch up gave both teams three full days off after Saturday night's Game 3.
Boston was in control of that contest for most of the night, but the Heat stormed back in the fourth quarter, at one point pulling to within five points. Ultimately, the Celtics held on, but Miami remains in the driver's seat up 2-1 in the series.
With a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead on the line, let's take a look at some betting angles for Game 4.
Favorite: Boston -3.5 (-162 on moneyline)
Underdog: Miami +3.5 (+135 on moneyline)
Total: 212.0 points
Barutha: Heat +3.5 (-109); UNDER 212.0 points (-109)
These teams are so evenly matched that I'm inclined to just take the points. Through three games, Boston has scored just three more points than Miami. The return of Gordon Hayward gives me some pause, but I believe that's already baked into the spread.
In terms of the total, ignoring the overtime period from Game 1, Miami and Boston are averaging 214 points per game. However, Game 3 was the only time either team has scored more than 106 points in regulation (Boston had 117). And, in the playoffs, the Celtics and Heat have combined to go under in 17 of 26 games. You can parlay the Heat moneyline and the under at +335, which is good value.
Whalen: Heat +3.5 (-109); UNDER 212.0 points (-109)
Game 3 was mostly a lopsided affair, but Miami came storming back in the fourth quarter, trimming the Celtics' lead down to five points with under a minute left. Boston was ultimately able to hold on, but the 11-point differential is somewhat misleading. These teams are incredibly evenly matched, and another close game should be expected. Frankly, it's impossible for me to say I expect either team to win with any degree of confidence, but I'll take the points and assume that if Boston does even the series, Game 4 will once again come down to one of the final possessions.
As far as the total is concerned, 212 points falls just short of the Game 3 total (213). Game 1 finished right at 212 in regulation (231 after OT), while Game 2 checked in at 207 points. On one hand, there's reason to believe Miami bounces back from a rough shooting game (39% FG; 12-44 3PT). Goran Dragic, in particular, should be much better. But the Heat still reached 106 points in Game 3, thanks largely to 26 made free throws.
The pace in Game 3 was also notably higher than Games 1 and 2, coming in at 99.0 possessions per 48. Game 2 finished at 93.2, while Game 1 was even slower at 90.0. Factoring in the expected decrease in pace, I like the under – even with Dragic, Jae Crowder (2-10 3PT) and the Heat's bench (combined 5-20 3PT) likely to progress relative to Game 3.
Goran Dragic OVER 26.5 points + rebounds + assists (-118)
Coming off of a poor Game 3, this number is lower than it should be. Dating back to the start of the playoffs, Dragic has gone over that 26.5 number in nine of 12 games, including Games 1 and 2 of this series. Game 3 was simply an off night on a number of levels. In addition to a rough shooting night, Dragic also committed a postseason-high five turnovers, while finishing with his lowest rebound total (1) since Mar. 6. Throughout the playoffs, Dragic has been the Heat's most consistent player, overall. I'm banking on a bounce-back game Wednesday night. - Nick Whalen
Bam Adebayo over 16.5 points (-129) and/or Top Points Scorer (+1,500)
The Celtics don't have the personnel to stop Adebayo around the basket, which has resulted in him averaging 22.0 points per game in the series. He's taking 14.0 shots per game, and it's hard to resist a points prop where the player is taking a similar number of shots to the amount of points he's expected to score. He's also the second-leading scorer in the entire series, and you can get him at +1500 to be the top scorer in the game – those odds seem far too long. - Alex Barutha
Jae Crowder OVER 2.5 made three-pointers (-180)
Hitting only two of 10 attempts from three, Crowder had his first truly bad game of the playoffs in Game 3, and he still managed a respectable 10 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block. Prior to that game, Crowder had hit at least three three-pointers in seven consecutive games dating back to Game 1 versus Milwaukee. Crowder was exceptionally hot during that stretch – 15.7 PPG, 43% 3PT – but he's played with immense conviction throughout the postseason, so one off night shouldn't rattle his confidence.
Since Game 2 of the Milwaukee series, Crowder is averaging 10.0 three-point attempts per game, and he hasn't taken fewer than nine in any game during that span. Assuming he maintains that volume, Crowder should have a great shot to get back on track and drain at least three attempts. - Nick Whalen
Jaylen Brown under 19.5 points (-104)
Brown is averaging 21.3 points per game in the series, but he's shooting a completely unsustainable 55.6 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from three. Plus, the return of Gordon Hayward is bound to have a negative impact on somebody's usage, and there's a solid chance that player ends up being Brown. During the regular season, with Hayward on the court, Brown averaged 1.3 fewer points per 36 minutes. The combination of both factors makes me believe regression is coming. - Alex Barutha
Jayson Tatum to finish with a double-double (+105)
Tatum has double-doubles in six of his last seven games, though he did finish with exactly 10 rebounds in two of those games – both against Toronto. Tatum has never handed out double-digit assists in three NBA seasons, so this is essentially a points/rebounds bet. Through three games, both teams have rebounded at nearly an identical rate, with Miami holding a slight advantage on the offensive glass.
From a team perspective, Tatum ranks third in total rebound percentage (15.8%), but the two players he trails – Enes Kanter (34.6%) and Robert Williams (23.8%) – have played a total of just 28 minutes. In general, we might not think of Tatum as an elite rebounder, but his total rebound percentage is almost the same as that of Bam Adebayo (16.0%), who's listed at -152 to record a double-double. - Nick Whalen
Bam Adebayo OVER 4.5 assists (+100)
Despite Adebayo handing out just five assists over his last two games, I really like this number. In the playoffs, Adebayo leads the Heat in both assists and potential assists per game. Particularly in Game 3, Miami struggled to convert off of Adebayo passes, but he still leads the team in potential assists (12.0) for the series by a wide margin. Adebayo finished Game 3 with 10 potential assists, but only one of those turned into a basket. Expect that number to rise Wednesday. - Nick Whalen