Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals pits the Boston Celtics against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. After a 118-107 victory in the series opener on Wednesday night, Miami leads the series 1-0.
Jimmy Butler came out firing, scoring 41 points on 12/19 shooting, while Tyler Herro added 18 from the bench. In the loss, Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, but the Celtics were outscored 39-14 in the third quarter falling to 0-1 in the series.
Before the series moves north to Boston, the Celtics will try to shift the momentum and tie things up in Miami, with Game 2 scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. EST. Most sportsbooks list the Heat as -3.5 point favorites in this one, with the point total at 208.
Boston Celtics Betting Preview
Boston has been the NBA’s finest defensive team all season, entering with the league’s best scoring defense, allowing only 104.5 points per game. Celtic defenders make it difficult for opposing shooters, allowing only 43.5 percent shooting from the field and less than 34% from beyond the arc.
However, Miami dominated the first half of the game, converting nearly 50% of their field goals. In the second half, the feared Boston defense had no answer for Jimmy Butler, who established himself as the best player on the court. We’ll watch how the defense rebounds on Friday after being knocked off their feet.
In Game 1, Boston struggled offensively at times, particularly in the third quarter, when they scored just 14 points. Boston shooters made 45.5 percent of their shots from the field, but only 32.5 percent of their long-range tries were made.
If they want to even things up in Game 2, they’ll have to convert at a higher rate. Marcus Smart and Al Horford’s absences were noticeable, and their situations will be worth keeping an eye on before Friday’s game.
Miami Heat Betting Preview
Miami’s second-half performance was noteworthy, punctuated by a 39-14 third-quarter run that saw the Heat overcome an eight-point deficit and take control of the game and ultimately jump out to a 1-0 lead in the series.
Jimmy Butler was spectacular, but the supporting cast as a whole contributed significantly to frustrating the Boston defense with a strong shooting night. Miami will attempt to extend their lead in Game 2 after making nearly half of their shots in the first game.
The Heat are scoring 110 points per game (ranked 17th) and shooting just under 47% from the field this season. Miami is statistically the NBA’s best three-point shooting team, shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc, but they’ll need to improve in Game 2 after shooting just 10 of 30 from outside the arc in Game 1.
While Boston’s defense has gotten a lot of praise, Miami also has an exceptional defense that ranks fourth in the league, allowing only 105.5 points per game.
The Heat have held opponents to less than 45 percent field goal shooting and less than 34 percent long-range shooting, ranking second in the NBA behind Boston. They did a good job of slowing down Boston in the second half of Game 1, allowing only 45 points in a strong finish.
Free Betting Pick
The Celtics haven’t dropped back-to-back games this postseason, and they’ll be ready to play Game 2 with a feeling of urgency before the series gets out of hand. Marcus Smart’s return to the court would be a tremendous boost for the Celtics as Smart is the reigning defensive player of the year.
Despite this, Jimmy Butler rose to the occasion, demonstrating his ability to take over a game in the final seconds and shred a great defense once again. Miami has a great supporting cast that will play a bigger role in Game 2, especially from three-point range, where the Heat are the NBA’s best. I like Miami in this one on their own turf.
Betting Pick: Miami -3.5
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