Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat Preview (5/21/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

The Miami Heat have taken a shocking 2-0 series lead after stealing two road games. Now, the Heat return to Miami for Game 3 against a desperate Celtics team. Take a look below for our game prediction and betting picks, as well as updated injury news, current odds, and the projected starting lineups for both teams!

Boston Celtics Vs. Miami Heat Betting Odds

Despite winning both of their first two games against the Celtics in Boston, the Heat return home as 3.5-point home dogs in Game 3. Miami still won’t have Victor Oladipo or Tyler Herro; however, if the Heat make the NBA Finals, there is an outside chance Herro could return from the injury he sustained early in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Boston will be without Danilo Gallinari, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered before the season.

Boston Celtics Vs. Miami Heat Prediction

If you expected Miami, an eight and nine-point underdog in Games 1 and 2, respectively, to win both games and take a 2-0 series lead before heading back home, you are probably not telling the truth. Few could have predicted this combination of unexpected unraveling from Boston and timely triumph from Miami, yet here we are. The Heat were a significant series underdog before the opening tip but are just two games away from the NBA Finals.

There have been several factors that have contributed to the astounding start of this series: coaching advantage, poise, and Jimmy Butler. Butler has been nothing short of phenomenal on both ends of the floor, and the energy and confidence that he brings is infectiously absorbed by his teammates. In this series, Butler has posted averages of roughly 31 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, and five steals per game on a 48/40/92 shooting split.

Boston has tried everything to stop Butler, including putting Grant Williams on him as a primary defender. Williams has a bowling ball physique at 6-foot-6, with the size, physicality, and athleticism to at least contest Butler, yet that didn’t work either. It only agitated and inspired Butler further.

Coaching is another serious advantage that Miami has over Boston. Right now, Boston’s head coach Joe Mazzulla looks lost, especially late in games; he is getting outcoached by Erik Spoelstra, who is widely considered one of the two or three best coaches in the NBA. The Celtics’ stagnant (and head-scratching) fourth-quarter offense lacks any semblance of poise, movement, or fluidity, as they have posted a total (through two games) of 47 points in the fourth quarter.

Further, Miami, as a team, is shooting a 50/44/87 shooting split through the first two games, which is outrageous. The Celtics have been known for their defense ever since their impressive post-holiday turning point during the 2021-22 season that catapulted them to an NBA Finals, but this team has not shown up on that end of the floor in this series. Or, perhaps, Miami is just the real deal and has figured out its offense at the right time.

Regardless, there is no way we can fade Miami as a 3.5-point home dog after its dominance in the first two games. The Heat have a 10-3 record against the spread this postseason and are 4-2 ATS versus Boston this season. Additionally, they are 5-0 at home in the 2023 Playoffs, boasting a net rating of 12.2. In particular, their defense has been tremendous, allowing opponents to shoot just 30% from deep. Even if the Heat don’t win, they should keep it close until the end.

Betting Trends

  • Boston is 8-7 ATS in the 2023 Playoffs
  • Miami is 4-2 ATS versus Boston this season
  • Miami is 10-3 ATS in the 2023 Playoffs
  • The combined over record between these two teams is 4-2 in six games of the 2022-23 season

Key Matchups

The key matchup for Game 3 between Miami and Boston, which is becoming quite the rivalry, belongs to Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum. Check out below if Tatum can help the C’s steal a game on the road or if Butler will shut the door on a second consecutive Finals appearance for him.

Jimmy Butler vs. Jayson Tatum

If one were to just eye the stat sheet of the first two games of this series, taking a general 30,000-foot view of the numbers, it could appear that these two have been performing on a similar level; however, that is simply not the case.

Butler has led his team to a 2-0 series lead (both road wins) against Tatum while holding him to zero field goals in both of the fourth quarters. While Tatum is scoring in those periods, it has usually been from bail-out foul calls; he is not scoring on Butler or getting any type of clean looks.

Butler’s defense has been elite thus far, as he has posted a total of nine steals and two blocks in Games 1 and 2, further evidencing the gap between his play and Tatum’s. Although Tatum has actually scored more points, Butler has controlled the game in a variety of ways, including distributing and playmaking for others. Can Tatum win this matchup and lead his team to victory?

He could, but his 42/32/86 shooting split in road games thus far certainly indicates that he has not been playing quite as well as his teammates have on the road. Tatum also has only eclipsed 30 points in two of his six road games in the 2023 Playoffs. Butler should have a slight advantage on Tatum in this one. Advantage: Butler.

Boston Celtics Starting Lineup

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams III

Miami Heat Starting Lineups

PG: Gabe Vincent
SG: Max Strus
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Kevin Love
C: Bam Adebayo

Key Injuries

Boston Celtics Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (Out)

Miami Heat Injuries: Tyler Herro (Out), Victor Oladipo (Out)

Drew is one of the NBA Lead Writers at, specializing in betting content such as game predictions and player props. With a deep knowledge of players and prospects, Drew has an extensive edge in covering everything NBA.

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