Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat Matchup Preview (5/29/22)
The Boston Celtics (3-3) face the Miami Heat (3-3) in a win-or-go-home Game 7 where the winner advances to the NBA Finals. Boston had the chance to eliminate the Heat at home, but they lost 111-103 in Game 6. Jayson Tatum was efficient, as he had 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists on a 75 FG% and 57.1 3PT%. However, his 7 turnovers were costly. Jaylen Brown contributed 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals on a 46.1 FG%. Marcus Smart and Al Horford struggled with their shot; they combined to go 5/23 (21.7%) from the field and 2/15 (13.3%) from three. Off the bench, Derrick White went for 22 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists on 4/7 from three. The injury report for Game 7 is clean, which is the first time all series. Boston will need to be at full strength to go into Miami and take down the Heat.
In a must-win game, Jimmy Butler exploded for 47 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block on a 55.1 FG% and 50 3PT%. Kyle Lowry had a double-double (18 points, 10 assists), and Strus scored 13 points on 3 threes. Bam Adebayo didn’t light up the box score, but his impact was felt in Game 6. He finished with 6 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists. PJ Tucker chipped in 11 points, and Oladipo scored 9 off the bench. Miami is one home victory from returning to the Finals. Overall, they are 7-2 at home this postseason with both losses coming against the Celtics. Miami may have to play without 6MOY Tyler Herro, who has missed the past three games with a groin injury. He is a game time decision currently. If he cannot play, then Duncan Robinson should see some minutes off the bench.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat Betting Odds
The spread for Game 7 is set at +2.5 Heat, which is about right. This game is going down to the wire, but the Celtics have the slight advantage. I like the Celtics to cover and win by 4-6 points. Butler was phenomenal in Game 6, but I don’t see him repeating that performance against this deadly Celtics defense. Tyler Herro will not be 100% if he plays, so Miami won’t be at full strength, while Boston will. The Heat also need Butler to have a great game, and the Celtics can win without a dominant Jayson Tatum performance. Miami is lethal enough to win Game 7, but Boston has the higher ceiling and should be the favorite to advance.
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Time: 8:30 PM ET
Arena: FTX Arena – Miami, FL
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Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics Analysis
Boston needs a better performance from DPOY Marcus Smart in Game 7. He only had 14 points and 3 assists on 4/15 from the field and 1/9 from three. When he shoots efficiently, Boston is virtually impossible to stop because they can score with any player from any area of the court. Brown and Tatum are going to score, Horford hits three and acts as a secondary playmaker, and Robert Williams is a lob threat. Smart’s shot completes this offense and forces Miami to pick their poison every possession. His defense wasn’t enough in Game 6, as Lowry and Strus were effective in their roles. Boston likely wins if Butler is the only player scoring efficiently on offense. It will be difficult to stop Butler, but Boston can focus on the others and limit his outlets. With Williams clamping Bam and Smart hounding Lowry, the Heat offense will struggle. Smart is the key here because he provides value in so many vital departments: scoring, playmaking, defense, and leadership.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Miami Heat Analysis
The Heat were saved by Butler, but it wouldn’t be wise to expect that performance again. Given that he has some regression, Miami needs to counter this with improvement in other areas. Bam Adebayo has to find his aggression on offense and fight in the paint. His interior scoring would help balance the offense and take pressure off of Jimmy’s shoulders. Even if he doesn’t hit his shots, his aggression can force Horford and Williams into foul trouble, which would be ideal for Miami.
The Heat traded for Kyle Lowry because of this moment. His vast playoff experience and steady presence is exactly what they need in a Game 7 that causes nerves. Lowry’s playmaking will be crucial because the majority of the Heat players struggle to create their own shot. Whether it is setting up shooters off screens or finding Bam inside, Lowry’s passing can skewer the Celtics.