Celtics vs. Heat Game 1 Predictions
The Boston Celtics battle the Miami Heat in what should be a competitive Eastern Conference Finals Game 1.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Tuesday, May 17, 2022 – 08:30 PM EDT at FTX Arena
The Heat opened at -1.5 at Everygame and BetOnline set the total at 204 in their NBA odds board. FiveThirtyEight has the Celtics as 1-point road favorites, projecting them to win 53 percent of the time. There’s a gap between the projections and the actual odds, should we take the road team and the points or hammer the total?
How These Teams Got Here
The Heat battled injuries all season long but they still got the best record in the Eastern Conference. Miami didn’t get much buzz heading into the playoffs but they followed up an impressive regular season by eliminating the Hawks and 76ers in the first two rounds.
It feels like the Heat are getting slept on and now they will deal with a Celtics team that ended the regular season on a high note before sweeping the Nets and going to war with the Bucks in an epic seven-game series. Many see that Celtics-Bucks series as an entertaining clash that felt like the NBA Finals and I can’t blame them for that. To me, the Celtics are more battle-tested this year but the Heat have a head coach with more experience in Erik Spoelstra and many players who have been in a big stage like this.
Game 1 Key: Jimmy Butler vs. the Celtics
Jimmy Butler’s game levels up in the playoffs and the Heat will go as he goes. You can’t measure how much he gives them at both ends of the floor. If healthy, Jimmy Butler helps the Heat prevail against anyone but this will be a real test for him. Butler hasn’t faced a group of perimeter defenders like the Celtics have.
Boston had the best defense in the NBA during the second half of the season and you saw what they did to Kevin Durant in the first round. Personnel-wise, the Celtics have enough 1 through 5 to switch onto Jimmy Butler. How will Butler respond, will they give him problems?
X-Factors for Each Team
Tyler Herro can be the difference in this series. Herro was Miami’s best offensive player in the regular season but he has been as consistent in the playoffs. The Heat need Herro’s best version in this series.
Aggressive defenses have targeted him in the playoffs and that won’t change against the Celtics. Can he handle this? If not, the Heat will struggle to keep up with a Celtics team that’s firing on all cylinders right now.
Derrick White is the player to watch for the Celtics. White moves the ball well and is a great defender, the problem is that he’s not scoring as much as he could. The Celtics need White to keep making plays and provide more scoring while playing big minutes. If he gets his shots to go down then the Celtics will get a massive boost and be in great shape in Game 1.
What’s the Best Bet for Game 1?
Miami’s dependence on Jimmy Butler can be their undoing on Tuesday. Butler has been unbelievable in the playoffs, not just this season, but the Celticscan shut him down and force other players to beat them, including Herro and Kyle Lowry, who’s dealing with a hamstring injury.
Lowry actually hurt the Heat when he played against the 76ers in the second round. The Heat will be at home and they won’t go down easy but they just don’t have the firepower to match the Celtics right now.
NBA Pick: Celtics +1.5 (-110) at BetOnline