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The Eastern Conference Finals will begin on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston. The Celtics will play host to the Heat for the second straight season. In 2022, Jimmy Butler had the chance to beat Boston in Game 7, but missed a game-winning three-pointer. This allowed the Celtics to take the series and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The history between these two teams is extensive, and countless close battles have occurred over the years. Boston is a heavy favorite to advance to the NBA Finals, but don’t count out Miami. Let’s break down the best ways to make money on the action.
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The Boston Celtics are the best team in the NBA and there is no denying this fact. If they don’t coast to the NBA Finals, it will be a disappointment. The Celtics control their own destiny and will only lose to the Heat if they don’t play up to their capability. Boston is led by their two-headed monster, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum struggled throughout the Eastern Conference semifinals, but a switch flipped in the fourth quarter of Game 6.
Tatum was 1 of 12 at one point in Game 6 but nailed four three-pointers in the fourth quarter to propel his team to a win. He carried this momentum into the final game of the series, scoring 51 points, the most ever in a Game 7. Tatum, combined with Brown is a tough combination for the opposition.
Brown has been consistently scoring in the mid-twenties while being very efficient from the field. The Heat play hard defense, but Brown has been very good against Miami this season. The guard has averaged 30.3 points per game in three contests, and he presents a lot of issues for Miami.
The Heat have two stars on the floor in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Butler can take over a game on any night, and Adebayo will challenge Robert Williams and Al Horford in the paint. The Heat are a quality team, but we expect them to be outmatched by the Celtics in multiple areas. For Miami to advance, they need to hit Boston on multiple bad nights and play their best possible basketball.
Tatum and Brown receive a lot of the credit for the Celtics' success, but this team is well-rounded in every area of the game. Boston has shown strength in numbers all season, and they have the Sixth Man of the Year coming off the bench in Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon can lack great vision at times, but he has been the most reliable bench player all season.
Brogdon gives Joe Mazzulla the ability to rest Brown and Tatum at any time and still have multiple scorers on the floor. The biggest concern for Boston in Game 1 is Mazzulla’s lack of experience. The Celtics are a much better team than the Heat, but they’re outmatched in the coaching category. Erik Spoelstra has been one of the best coaches historically in the league and knows how to win in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Mazzulla has shown a lot of lackluster decisions throughout the playoffs. These decisions have resulted in losses, so don’t take coaching for granted if you’re betting on Boston.
The Miami Heat don’t have strength in numbers like the Celtics. Miami needs a Jimmy Butler masterclass to have a chance to win. This will be the case whether they get Tyler Herro back in the lineup or he continues to watch from the bench. Butler is averaging 31.1 points per game in the playoffs, with 5.4 assists.
Butler has been scoring at will, and when he is on, it’s rare to see him miss. The Celtics have players to match up with Butler, but we still like him to have a big series. The biggest key for Miami will be Adebayo in the paint. He can help his team succeed by grabbing offensive rebounds. These boards will help Butler get into a rhythm, so the duo’s teamwork is critical.
The Celtics are much better than the Heat, but they’re slow starters. Miami has proven to give teams trouble at home in their opening playoff matchup. The Heat beat the Bucks and the Knicks as visitors to begin the first two rounds of the playoffs. We don’t believe they will win Game 1 against Boston, but eight points is too large of a spread for Butler. Take the Heat plus the points on Wednesday.
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Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.More info on Tanner Kern
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