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According to ESPN Analytics, despite having a 2-0 series lead and heading back home, the Heat still only have a 35% chance to win the Eastern Conference Finals.
ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports, but its analytics department must not have watched the series' first two games. The Celtics are clearly the better team on the floor, and they’ve had multiple double-digit leads to support this fact.
Although, when it comes to the fourth quarter, Boston cannot find a way to win. Championship teams find a way to prevail down the stretch, and Boston just hasn’t done that in the Eastern Conference Finals. Let’s break down the best ways to make money on Game 3.
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The Celtics were outcoached and outplayed once again by the Miami Heat in the final 12 minutes of Game 2.
The Celtics enforced their will on the Heat in the third quarter, outscoring their opponent by 12. However, they took their foot off the game in the fourth quarter and were beaten by a 36-22 margin. This resulted in the Heat coming out on top 111-105. The Celtics have blown countless leads at home in the playoffs, and they’ve gotten away with this, advancing in every round thus far.
This winning formula isn’t sustainable, as we’ve seen against a quality team like the Heat.
The story of the series has been the fourth quarter, but primarily Jayson Tatum going quiet in this stretch. He had 34 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists in the game, but it wasn’t the case in the final 12 minutes.
Tatum was 0-3 with two turnovers in the fourth quarter, and his teammate Jaylen Brown wasn’t any better.
Brown was 1 of 5 down the stretch with a turnover. These two stars have been the deadliest combination in the NBA, but a combined 1 of 8 from the field with three turnovers in the fourth quarter is embarrassing. This performance has become the standard in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As bad as Boston has been in this series, you must tip your cap to the Heat. In clutch situations, all they’ve done is deliver, and I believe we will keep seeing that throughout the series. It would be remarkable if a team as talented as Boston is swept, but we expect Miami to continue putting the pressure on their opponent. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have been phenomenal in the series.
Adebayo was one assist short of a triple-double on a night that included 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Butler had 27 points and didn’t make a single three, enforcing his will on Boston from mid-range all night. As good as these two have played, Boston doesn’t need to worry about handling them in Game 3. They must worry about themselves and control their decision-making in the fourth quarter. The Celtics have beaten themselves throughout the series, and if they coast in the fourth quarter, this will happen once again.
The Celtics need better production and decision-making from the entire team in the fourth quarter. Tatum and Brown must be better, but the whole team is at fault for the fourth-quarter laziness we’ve seen in the first two games. When Boston gives up a lead, they become one of the sloppiest teams in the NBA and look like they’ve never been in a clutch situation.
After Game 1, we said expect to see the Celtics turn around their poor play in Game 2. We’re going to say the same thing in Game 3, as Boston is a much better team.
Outside of Butler and Adebyao, the Heat don’t have the talent to beat the Celtics. If you think Boston can put a complete game together, bet on the franchise to win Game 3. We’re going to trust them one more time before we rule them down for the count.
Miami is outmatched in this series, but they’ve won the first two games by staying locked in during the fourth quarter.
The Heat should have no fear heading into Game 3, and we expect their play style to represent this down the stretch. When a team’s back isn’t against the wall, they tend to play better. All the pressure is on the Celtics in this position because if they don’t take both games, their NBA Finals dream is likely over.
Look for Butler and Adebayo to continue setting the tone for their team. Adebayo’s rebounding and Butler’s PRA total have been profitable in the Eastern Conference Finals, and no matter the result, we like these two bets to hit once again. Look for Miami to hang throughout the game, but turn the intensity up in the fourth quarter,
Boston is the better team, and we will trust them once again in this series. The Celtics' back is up against the wall, and they perform better under pressure.
This dates back to last season when they beat the Bucks and Heat in seven games to reach the NBA Finals. They also prevailed against the Sixers in this year’s semifinals in seven games.
It was shocking to see Boston lose Game 2, but if they have any level of heart, they’ll turn around their play in this spot.
PICK: Celtics -3.5 (-110)
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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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