NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Game 5 (Friday, Sept. 25)
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The Miami Heat are looking to close out this series against the Boston Celtics and advance to their first Finals since 2014 when they were led by LeBron James the Big 3. Can Boston hold them off, or will Miami continue its run through the East?
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Gordon Hayward’s return did not swing this series into a 2-2 tie. Instead, the Celtics are now facing a nearly insurmountable 3-1 deficit. While we have seen similar leads overcome twice this postseason, teams down 3-1 in the conference finals are just 4-50 all-time.
One reason Boston has struggled in this series is it’s turning the ball over at a much higher rate than it did during the regular season. The Celtics are committing turnovers on 16.4% of possessions compared to their sixth-best turnover rate (13.6%) during the regular season, per Cleaning the Glass. That might not seem like a significant swing, but only one team (Cleveland) had a worse turnover rate during the regular season than the Celtics do in this series. They’re giving Miami easy looks and excellent transition opportunities. The Heat are scoring a whopping 150.0 points per 100 possessions off of these Boston turnovers.
The Celtics need to protect the basketball, and if it weren’t for their turnovers, they are scoring an excellent 114.6 points per 100 possessions this series. This is sustainable. The Celtics are shooting a touch better in real life than they are expected based on eFG%, but with Hayward back, I think that number trends up. That being said, I expect them to come out firing in a must-win Game 5.
Miami has been absolutely relentless this series. The Heat never quit and continue to put pressure on the Celtics in games in which other teams may have chalked it up for a loss.
One of the most surprising things about this run is that Miami is actually due for some improvement shooting the basketball. It has shot just 51% eFG% against an expected 53.7%. These are both well below Miami’s regular-season eFG% of 55.1%. Despite this, Miami has yet to be held to fewer than 106 points in any game this series and has averaged 114.0 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass.
Miami has done this by creating massive amounts of turnovers and burying the corner 3 (45.9%). Each game we have seen adjustments by Coach Erik Spoelstra, and he has had an answer for each adjustment Brad Stevens has made. This series lead is attributable to not only the players, but Miami’s coaching as well.
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Coming into this series, it felt as if this was the Celtics’ series to lose. They’re doing a great job of that.
I think this deficit is much more about Boston’s shortcomings than Miami’s successes, but here we are. It seems as if Boston always takes a lead it doesn’t finish, and Miami has been absolutely relentless on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Considering Miami has not been held to fewer than 106 points this entire series, I think there’s value on its team total. It currently sits at 104.5, and we are getting some value because sportsbooks continue to list Miami as a dog in this series despite the 3-1 lead. I’m not quite ready to give up on Boston to push this series a bit, but Miami’s scoring output is too good to pass up.
The Pick: Miami team total over 104.5 (Up to 106.5)
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