This article provides in-depth analysis of this Game 2 matchup between the Heat and Celtics, including a betting prediction, odds, key matchups and starting lineups.
The Boston Celtics are looking to bounce back from another Game 1 loss at home when they host the Miami Heat for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night.
Both teams are in a familiar situation – the Heat have won Game 1 on the road in each of their three playoff series this season, while the Celtics dropped Game 1 at home to the 76ers in the previous round. That should make for some interesting storylines heading into Game 2.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Game 2 Prediction
At this point is it really that surprising that Jimmy Butler led the Heat to another second-half comeback on the road to steal Game 1 of this series? It certainly should not be, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
All around game from Jimmy to start the series. 35 points AND 6 steals ☕️ pic.twitter.com/LEuhvqoPNk
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 18, 2023
The question now is how each team responds.
In their previous two series in this year’s playoffs against the Bucks and Knicks, Miami lost Game 2 after winning Game 1 on the road. In the last round against Philadelphia, Boston won Game 2 handily after dropping Game 1 at home.
Of course, it’s not as simple as just looking at those recent performances in similar situations. Every series and every matchup is different. But in a series that most expect to go six or seven games (last year’s ECF between these teams went seven), it’s hard to imagine Boston dropping the first two games at home.
Unfortunately the -390 moneyline is unplayable to me, so I’m taking the Heat with the points to avoid a double-digit loss. When it comes down to it, I trust Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler more than I do Joe Mazzulla and Jayson Tatum, especially late in the game.
The Heat simply have no quit, and as we saw in the 3rd quarter of Game 1, their defense can help them erase just about any deficit. That will help them win the fourth quarter of Game 2 and cover their +9 spread.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Betting Odds
The Celtics opened as -9 favorites for Game 2 and that line has not changed despite roughly 70% of the handle being on Miami. Sportsbooks have not adjusted their odds in response to the Heat winning Game 1, which closed with a line of Celtics -8.5.
The moneyline odds have also held firm so far at their opening odds of Celtics -390 and Heat +320.
The over/under has only moved a half-point from 215 to 215.5, which could be a reaction to more than 90% of the handle being on the over.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Celtics winning 112.25-103.25.
- The Heat are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a straight-up win, while the Celtics are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following a straight-up loss.
- The Over is 9-1 in the Heat’s last 10 road games.
- The Over is 9-3 in both the Heat’s and the Celtics’ last 12 Conference Finals games.
- The Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings between these teams in Boston.
Turnovers and three-point shooting were the biggest factors in Game 1. Can we expect more of the same in Game 2?
Miami shot a staggering 16-of-31 (51.6%) from three in Game 1, including 9-of-16 in the third quarter when they turned a 9-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
Boston, on the other hand, shot just 10-of-29 from deep including 5-of-16 in that pivotal third quarter.
These teams both rely heavily on the deep ball. Among the 16 playoff teams, they are each in the top 6 in both 3PA as a percentage of FGA and percentage of total points from three pointers. During the regular season, they were each in the top 9 in the former category and in the top 12 in the latter.
Boston leads all teams in the playoffs in three-point shooting at 39.3%, while Miami is fourth at 37.8%. Both teams have improved on their regular season marks, where Boston shot 37.7% (6th) while Miami shot 34.4% (27th).
Miami doesn’t need to exceed 50% from three to win this game or even to cover, but it probably needs to shoot at least 40%. If either team finds a significant edge in this category, that will swing the outcome dramatically, just like it did in Game 1.
Ball security was the other factor that swung Game 1 dramatically. The Celtics committed 10 turnovers in the second half compared to just three by Miami.
Jayson Tatum was the biggest culprit for Boston. He committed three costly turnovers in the fourth quarter, including two traveling violations in the final two minutes as Boston attempted to mount a comeback.
Miami’s defense forced the third-most turnovers per 100 possessions during the regular season. If Boston continues to struggle to protect the ball, especially late in the game, the Heat will continue to capitalize on it.
Miami Heat Starting Lineups
Boston Celtics Starting Lineups
Miami Heat Injuries: Victor Oladipo (O – knee), Tyler Herro (O – hand)
Boston Celtics Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (O – knee)