Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Matchup Preview (5/21/22)
The Miami Heat (1-1) battle the Boston Celtics (1-1) for Eastern Conference supremacy in Game 3 on Saturday night. Miami is coming off a disappointing 127-102 loss in Game 2. They shot a 29.4 3PT% and had five more turnovers than Boston. Jimmy Butler had 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists on 11/18 shooting, but he did not get much help from his teammates. Bam Adebayo contributed 6 points and 9 rebounds, while Tyler Herro only scored 11 points on 5/11 from the field. Max Strus was 2/7 in terms of three-point shooting and only added 6 points. Gabe Vincent, however, played well in his 24 minutes by scoring 14 points on 4/8 from three. The loss was not the only negative from Game 2, as PJ Tucker suffered a knee injury during the 3rd quarter. He intends to play Game 3, but he will not be 100% healthy. Kyle Lowry also intends to play after missing the past four games. Gabe Vincent will shift back to the bench should Lowry officially return to the lineup.
Boston routed Miami behind their phenomenal three-point shooting. As a team, they were 20/40 from three and led 70-35 at halftime. After missing Marcus Smart and Al Horford in Game 1, the Celtics looked rejuvenated with the pair back on the court. Smart dominated by posting 24 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals on 5/12 from three. Horford didn’t light up the box score, but his impact goes far beyond the numbers. He finished with 10 points on 2/2 from three. Jayson Tatum turned in an efficient game; he scored 27 points on a 61.5 FG% and 66.6 3PT%. Jaylen Brown scored 24 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, while Grant Williams poured in 19 points. Overall, it was a defining game for Boston. They avoided a 2-0 hole and now hold home-court advantage for the rest of the series. Derrick White was absent for personal reasons in Game 2; however, he is available for Game 3. Robert Williams is out because of knee soreness, so Grant Williams will get the start in his place.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Betting Odds
The Game 3 spread is -6.5 Celtics after their impressive Game 2 performance. I like the Celtics to cover here and take a 2-1 series lead. Their defense is more lethal and versatile than Miami’s, and Boston has multiple go-to offensive options. The Heat, meanwhile, have Butler and a struggling Herro. The Celtics have home-court advantage and the momentum heading into Game 3, which only multiplies their talent advantage. It won’t be a blowout to the same magnitude, but Boston is going to take this by 10-12 points.
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Time: 8:30 PM ET
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, MA
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Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Miami Heat Analysis
Miami’s offense was stifled all night by the elite Celtics defense. Butler couldn’t switch to attack any weakness because Smart, Brown, Tatum, Horford, Rob, and Grant are excellent isolation defenders. Miami’s offense doesn’t run smoothly when Butler is not a playmaker because their primary options are far more efficient as catch and shoot threats instead of off the dribble threats. Vincent and Strus struggled to find any space, and Tucker was almost a non-factor on offense.
If the Heat are going to keep up with Boston’s offense, then Tyler Herro has to revert to his regular season impact. He won 6MOY because he dropped 20.7 PPG and 4 APG on a 39.9 3PT%. Does Miami move him to the starting lineup if they are routed in Game 3? His ability to break down the defense offers the Heat a variety of options, which is exactly what they require. His advantage on the second unit isn’t as beneficial as the regular season either because teams tighten their rotations in the playoffs. Miami could explore using former All-Star Victor Oladipo in a larger capacity. He is not the player he once was, but he can still create his own shot and light up the Celtics from three. The Heat are still an excellent squad, yet they must tweak and adjust in order to survive.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics Analysis
The addition of Smart and Horford radically flipped this series. Smart’s playmaking meant Tatum could catch passes off of screens, which is where he is the most effective. Their shot quality was greater because Smart set up teammates in a manner that Tatum cannot accomplish yet. His perimeter defense clamped the Heat guards, which was a problem for Boston in Game 1. Horford stretched the floor and ensured that Miami couldn’t pack the paint. His defense allowed Robert Williams and Grant Williams to roam more and become eager help defenders. This starting lineup is matchup proof, and they can switch 1-5 anytime. In order to beat this, a team would need three players on the court capable of breaking down a defense off the dribble. Miami struggles in this department, so the Celtics future looks bright.