In a thrilling turn of events, the Miami Heat are on the verge of making history for all the wrong reasons. After establishing a 3-0 lead in the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat have endured three consecutive losses to the Boston Celtics. Now, they face a high-stakes, win-or-go-home Game 7 matchup on Memorial Day, with TD Garden in Boston set to host the momentous affair.
However, both teams face injury concerns, as Gabe Vincent (ankle) remains a game-time decision for the Heat but is expected to play. At the same time, Malcolm Brogdon (forearm) is listed as questionable for the Celtics after sitting out Game 6.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET in Boston. The latest NBA Finals odds at BetUS sportsbook show that the Celtics are 7.5-point home favorites, with the over/under set at 203 points.
Here are some key NBA betting lines and trends for the Heat vs. Celtics showdown:
- Heat vs. Celtics spread: Celtics -7.5
- Heat vs. Celtics over/under: 203 points
- Heat vs. Celtics money line: Celtics -320, Heat +250
- MIA: The Heat are 21-27-1 against the spread in road games
- BOS: The Celtics are 29-22 against the spread in home games
Why the Heat Can Cover
The Miami Heat can enter Game 7 with confidence, particularly due to the presence of their star player, Jimmy Butler. Despite struggling with his shooting in Game 6, Butler scored ten crucial points in the final two minutes, including three free throws that nearly sealed the victory for Miami. Throughout the playoffs, Butler has been averaging 28.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Looking back at his performance over the past two playoff runs, he has consistently produced 27.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Butler is undeniably the linchpin of the Heat’s offense, scoring over 1.16 points per possession and shooting an impressive 38.5% from beyond the arc in the postseason.
Miami has also benefited from stellar contributions by Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, and Duncan Robinson, who have effectively supplemented the team’s offensive output. In Game 6, the Heat shot 14-for-30 from three-point range while committing only five turnovers. Additionally, Miami experienced success at TD Garden earlier in the series, securing victories in two out of the first three games and scoring well over 1.18 points per possession in Boston.
Why the Celtics Can Cover
On paper, the Boston Celtics have been the superior team throughout the 2022-23 season, and they managed to recapture their dominant form in the last three games. Throughout three consecutive wins, the Celtics outscored the Heat by an impressive 10.5 points per 100 possessions. In addition to their outstanding defensive performance, Boston’s offense came alive, averaging 120.9 points per 100 possessions during those victories. The team displayed a remarkable 60.6% true shooting percentage and earned 23.7 free throw attempts per game.
The Celtics exhibited excellent ball security, committing turnovers on fewer than 12% of possessions. They also showcased improved physicality with a 29.1% offensive rebound rate and an average of 16.0 second-chance points per game. Throughout the entire postseason, Boston’s high-powered offense has maintained an average of over 1.17 points per possession, and no team in the 2023 NBA playoffs boasts a better true shooting percentage than the Celtics’ remarkable 59.9%.
Win or Go Home
As the final buzzer sounded, the Miami Heat stood on the precipice of their greatest challenge. Facing the pressure of Game 7 against the formidable Boston Celtics, the Heat’s resolve remained unyielding. Their fearless leader, Jimmy Butler, had a unique way of decompressing after such intense battles – a late-night game of Spades. With unwavering determination, he declared, “I’m not going to let our guys quit. I don’t care what nobody says. Everything is going to be okay.”
For the Celtics, a team that had fought to the No. 2 seed, Game 7 was their last opportunity to salvage a season filled with triumph and tribulation. Their eyes were fixed on their pledge to return to the grand stage of the NBA finals, eager to avenge last year’s loss to the Golden State Warriors. Their enigmatic star, Jayson Tatum, had been plagued by inconsistency; even in moments of victory, each night brought the perilous possibility of his scoring droughts, leaving his season hanging by a thread. In Saturday’s game, only 6 of his 31 points came in the crucial second half.
“We’re all aware that it’s not time to celebrate,” Tatum humbly acknowledged. “We didn’t accomplish anything.”
Amidst the late-night hours, Jimmy Butler summoned guard Kyle Lowry for a private conversation at his locker as the world slept. Vincent, with his moody music, had already left the scene. The room fell silent, anticipation hanging in the air. At the front, a monitor displayed the team’s schedule for Sunday, and it held only one item: a 1:30 p.m. flight to Boston.
As dawn approached and the sun cast its golden rays, both teams prepared to face the moment of truth. Game 7 was now an indomitable battlefield, a proving ground where legacies were forged. Miami stood resolute, ready to overcome its greatest test, while Boston sought redemption and a chance to fulfill their promise. The journey continued, destiny beckoning as the clock ticked closer to the flight that would carry them into the crucible of the showdown.