Heat vs. Celtics: Crucial Matchup In East Playoff Race

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Miami Heat. Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images/AFP

Very important game regarding the Eastern Conference playoffs on Tuesday night as the Miami Heat visit the Boston Celtics for the second straight game. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks? 

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT – at TD Garden 

Heat-Celtics is the first of an NBA on TNT doubleheader on Tuesday night, with the late game being Knicks at Lakers and the possible injury return of LeBron James. However, the Miami-Boston matchup is easily the more important game regarding the Eastern Conference playoffs. A reminder that only the top six teams in each conference automatically qualify for the postseason and teams 7-10 match up in a play-in tournament.

The Heat (37-31) are in sixth as things stand and the Celtics (35-33) are in seventh. The two teams have split two meetings thus far and this is the finale so the winner would own a massive tiebreaker. Essentially, if Miami wins this game it’s going to avoid the play-in tournament and Boston will have to be in that. However, a Celtics victory still keeps alive hope of finishing sixth. Whichever team does finish sixth will lose in the first round, regardless to either Milwaukee or Brooklyn. On the NBA futures odds at Bovada to win the East, the Heat are +1200 and Celtics +4000. Boston leads the all-time regular-season series 76-49 and is 41-20 at home despite Sunday’s loss. Miami is 8-2 ATS on NBA picks in its past 10 in Boston.

Heat Riding Butler Of Late

Miami actually could finish as high as fourth in the East with Atlanta and New York barely ahead. Obviously, fourth would be ideal as it would ensure first-round home-court advantage. After this game, the Heat finish vs. Philadelphia (Thursday) at Milwaukee (Saturday) and at Detroit (Sunday). The Heat were 1-point underdogs on the NBA odds Sunday in Boston but won 130-124. Miami’s 79 first-half points scored were the second-most in franchise history and the second-most ever given up by Boston. Miami was up as much as 26 with Boston getting no closer than six points in the fourth quarter. The Heat shot 65.1 percent in the first half and had five players reach double digits before intermission.

Jimmy Butler has really raised his game of late and led the Heat with 26 points overall despite only attempting one shot in the first half. He also led the team with 11 assists. Butler was two rebounds shy of a triple-double. Duncan Robinson had 22 points and is fifth in the NBA in averaging 3.5 made three-pointers per game. He’s hitting 47.9 percent from deep over his past six and is the first undrafted player in NBA history and in Heat history overall to make at least 200 three-pointers in multiple seasons. Robinson is the only Heat player to appear in every game this season.

Miami remains without big trade acquisition Victor Oladipo, who has missed the past 16 with right knee soreness. He won’t play here, either. At least the Heat didn’t give up too much for the pending free agent. The Heat are 4-1 ATS on the NBA odds in their past five as favorites.

Celtics Playing Home Finale

After this game, Boston finishes at Cleveland (Wednesday), at Minnesota (Saturday) and at New York (Sunday). So, Tuesday is obviously the home finale. Boston wasn’t going to win the East this year regardless, but there’s no chance now with the news Monday that All-Star and second-leading scorer Jaylen Brown is done for the season with a torn ligament in his left wrist that will require surgery. He had missed the past three with a sprained right ankle. Brown is averaging 24.7 points and 6.0 rebounds. Center Robert Williams has been dealing with turf toe and tried to play Sunday but only got in 11 minutes. He’s doubtful for this one.

Those guys are both good defenders and Sunday’s embarrassing first-half defensive performance means Boston has now allowed 70 or more points in a half three times over their last five games (Portland 71, San Antonio 77). The C’s have held their opponent to under 100 points only once in the last nine games and rank 25th in the NBA in points allowed over that stretch. Evan Fournier was a bright spot Sunday as he had 30 points, his most as a Celtic since coming over in trade from Orlando. His eight assists were also his high with the new club. Jayson Tatum added 29 points. He is averaging 31.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists over the past eight. Rookie forward Aaron Nesmith chipped in 16 points off the bench, tying his career high.

Keep in mind that Boston coach Brad Stevens rests starting point guard Kemba Walker in one game of a back-to-back and this is the front end. I’d imagine, though, that Walker sits Wednesday because the Celtics can beat Cleveland without him on Wednesday. Boston is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home.

NBA Pick: Heat at -2 (-110) with BetOnline