Celtics vs. Heat NBA Playoffs Game 1 Best Bets

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The early birds put the Miami Heat in Tuesday’s NBA picks for Game 1 of their Eastern final with the Boston Celtics. Or did they? 

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 – 08:30 PM EDT at FTX Arena 

Something strange is happening at South Beach. The Miami Heat opened as 2-point favorites for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals this Tuesday – or at least they did at most locations, including Bovada (visit our Bovada Review). Before you could say “Zydrunas Ilgauskas,” the Heat were pushed down to –1.5 in early betting

Makes sense. The fine folks at FiveThirtyEight project the Boston Celtics to win this matchup by one point and Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today has Game 1 as a virtual toss-up using his standard Rating system. But the consensus reports as we go to press show 90 percent of bettors putting Miami in their NBA picks. Curious. 

Are The Sharps On Miami? 

Maybe not. These consensus figures represent the number of bettors in the survey, not the amount of cash wagered. If this were, say, 2006, I probably would have told you that the big bets, and therefore the sharps, must be on the Celtics. 

I know I would be. Boston took their regular-season series with Miami 2-1 SU and ATS; they led the East with a plus-7.3 point differential, while the Heat were a distant second at plus-4.4. Yet it’s Miami who carry the No. 1 seed into this series, with the Celtics at No. 2. 
 
The C’s do have a substantial fan base, though. So I took the liberty of looking at some of the public money charts on the interwebs, and sure enough, Miami have pulled in more action than Boston this year – something like 20 percent more. 
 
Perhaps one day we’ll have expanded consensus figures on the NBA odds board that show the amount wagered on either side. Until then, I’m going to assume Boston are the sharp team in this matchup. 

What About Marcus Smart? 

It’s definitely not ideal for the Celtics that the Defensive Player of the Year might not be available Tuesday. Minutes before I wrote this, head coach Ime Udoka told reporters that Marcus Smart will be listed as questionable for Game 1 with a sprained right foot
 
This is important for Boston – but not that important. According to the stats, Smart isn’t even the best defender on his own team: 

Celtics by Defensive Box Plus/Minus 

  • Robert Williams III plus-3.1 
  • Al Horford plus-2.9 
  • Marcus Smart plus-1.7 

Anyway, the drop-off from Smart to back-up point guard Derrick White (plus-0.5 DBPM) isn’t that big. And third-stringer Payton Pritchard (plus-0.1 DBPM) improved his game substantially during the second half of the season. The Celtics should be fine whether Smart plays or not. 
 
As for the Heat, Kyle Lowry (hamstring) appears far less likely to play in Game 1 after sitting out Monday’s practice. And while Gabe Vincent has performed admirably in Lowry’s absence, the drop-off between the two is more significant in this case. 

What's the Pick?

With all that in mind, let’s throw a small bet at Boston and see what they can do. The classic underdog-Under parlay makes sense here as well, although the total is already down from 206 to 204 points at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review). Dang those sharps and their ability to get out of bed in the morning. 

NBA Pick: Celtics +1.5 (–105) at Bovada

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Celtics +1.5 (-105)
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NBA Pick: Under 204 (–108) at Heritage Sports 

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Under 204 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.