Losing Al Horford makes it hard for the Boston Celtics to beat the NBA odds this Thursday when they visit the Miami Heat.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Thursday, May 19, 2022 – 08:30 PM EDT at FTX Arena
This is why we can’t have nice things. The Boston Celtics were our official NBA pick here at the ranch for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Miami Heat, but less than three hours before Tuesday’s tip-off, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka announced that Al Horford (health and safety protocols) wouldn’t be available.
Smack my head. Marcus Smart (foot) didn’t play either, although that was expected.
And Boston actually did a good job keeping up with the Heat; in the end, though, Miami prevailed 118-107 as 4.5-point home favorites, up from –1.5 when we made our picks.
Now we have to figure out whether the Celtics are still the right choice for Game 2.
The consensus reports at press time show 70 percent of early bettors on Miami, who opened as 4-point faves on the betting odds at Heritage Sports.
That seems like a sharp bet when you consider how important Horford is to the Celtics.
Is Al Horford Going To Play?
Probably not. Chris Haynes at Yahoo! Sports says that Horford is “unlikely” to suit up Thursday, although it could still happen.
NBA teams appear more willing than ever to skirt the league’s rules and disguise the status of their players, even in the face of hefty fines.
Losing one of your top players isn’t a great way to start the Eastern finals. And Horford (plus-4.3 BPM at Basketball Reference) is almost certainly undervalued in the betting market.
After two years of playing in less than ideal circumstances in Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, Horford is performing just as well today at age 35 as he did during his first stint with the Celtics. He will be missed.
Is Marcus Smart Going To Play?
This seems more likely. Smart (plus-0.5 BPM) is officially listed as questionable with that sprained right foot, but the aforementioned Haynes reports that Smart is “aiming” for a Game 2 return.
As we mentioned in our Game 1 preview, Smart isn’t that much of an upgrade from Derrick White (minus-0.9 BPM) and Payton Pritchard (plus-1.9 BPM).
But Smart is the best defender of the three, and his presence was sorely missed Tuesday night with Horford out of the lineup, helping the Over get paid on the closing total of 203.5 points.
Is Robert Williams Okay?
Relatively. Boston fans had their hearts in their mouths early in Game 1 when Williams had to leave the court – but it turned out just to be cramped.
Williams should be fine for Game 2, although he’s been in and out of uniform all year long.
The bigger problem might be Udoka himself. He’s suffering from a non-COVID illness that kept him from speaking at Wednesday’s news conference.
Udoka will presumably coach Thursday regardless, but even with Kyle Lowry (hamstring) expected to miss another game for Miami, we’ve got more than enough reason now to switch our betting pick and run with the Heat. It’s just the right thing to do.
Score Prediction: Celtics 101, Heat 108
*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.