Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat face off against Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics on Thursday evening. After a Game 1 victory for Miami, Boston will aim to even the series in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Gordon Hayward (ankle) and Javonte Green (knee) are officially listed as doubtful to play for Boston, while Miami reports no injuries to players in its regular rotation.
This 2020 NBA Playoffs matchup tips at 7 p.m. ET inside the Orlando bubble. William Hill lists Boston as the 2.5-point favorite, up a point from the opening line. The latest Celtics vs. Heat odds show the over-under for total points expected at 209.5. Before locking in any Heat vs. Celtics picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions from SportsLine's proven computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it's already returned over $5,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks this season. It entered the week on a blistering 61-33 run on top-rated NBA spread picks, returning almost $2,500 on those picks alone. It's also a sizzling 11-3 on top-rated picks since the NBA's restart in July. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Celtics vs. Heat spread: Celtics -2.5
- Celtics vs. Heat over-under: 209.5 points
- Celtics vs. Heat money line: Celtics -145, Heat +125
- BOS: The Celtics are 6-4 against the spread in the last 10 games
- MIA: The Heat are 9-1 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Celtics can cover
The Celtics are a strong two-way team, featuring the best defense so far in the NBA Playoffs 2020. Boston is allowing just 1.03 points per possession in the postseason, the No. 1 rate in the league, and the Celtics are also holding opponents to just 41.1 percent shooting and 31.7 percent from 3-point range, both of which top the NBA. In the regular season, Brad Stevens' team was also stellar defensively, ranking No. 4 in defensive rating, and Boston also boasted a top-four offense.
More than anything, the Celtics are incredibly balanced, ranking in the top six of the league in turnover avoidance and rebounding on the offensive side, as well as shooting efficiency allowed and turnover creation defensively. To go along with that balance, Boston also has star power, with Tatum averaging 25.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs and Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker both adding more than 19 points per game to the mix.
Why the Heat can cover
Game 1 was a hard-fought battle on both ends, but the Heat were the better offensive team. Miami assisted on 80 percent of its field goals in the series opener, boasting a sparkling 2.46-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio against Boston. The Heat are also excelling as a passing team on a wider scale, with a 67 percent assist rate in the playoffs, and Miami is sporting a 1.13 points per possession clip in the postseason. Butler, averaging 21.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, is the linchpin for Miami, though Goran Dragic, averaging 21.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists in the postseason, is rediscovering his All-Star form.
Elsewhere, Bam Adebayo contributed the game-saving blocked shot in Game 1, and the young star is averaging 16.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Defensively, the Heat are excellent on the glass, ranking No. 2 in the NBA in defensive rebounding during the regular season and replicating that success in the playoffs. Overall, Miami is allowing just 1.06 points per possession in the postseason, and the Heat can rely on a stellar scheme from Erik Spoelstra.
How to make Celtics vs. Heat picks
SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, with Tatum and Dragic both projected to outperform their season-long scoring averages. It also says one side of the spread hits more than 50 percent of the time. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Heat vs. Celtics? And which side of the spread hits in more than 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Celtics vs. Heat spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $5,000 on its top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.