Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Prediction
Miami has frustrated Boston in recent seasons by routinely overcoming the talent gap, but the new-look Celtics are a different animal.
Kristaps Porzingis drained five threes in his Celtics debut and brutally punished Mitchell Robinson for not coming out to the arc. Bam Adebayo certainly has the defensive chops to thrive on the perimeter, but it pulls him away from the paint and his elite team defender role. The Heat desperately need Adebayo filling this role too because 37-year-old Kyle Lowry, 35-year-old Kevin Love and Tyler Herro are all defensive liabilities. As a result, Boston’s numerous self-creation weapons will hunt mismatches and flourish against Miami should they play man to man defense.
The Heat had success against Boston in zone defense during the playoffs, but it likely wilts here. The Celtics will have five three-point shooters at all times who can mostly attack off the dribble. So it’s only a matter of time before Miami’s zone surrenders an advantage and crumbles. They also don’t have the defensive personnel anymore to lock down opponents in their zone with Tyler Herro starting and Gabe Vincent and Max Strus gone. New acquisition Josh Richardson could strengthen the zone, but he’s out for this contest.
On the other end, Miami’s offense completely lacks playmakers and self-creation scorers outside of Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler. Unfortunately for the Heat, Boston fields the best one-two punch across the NBA in terms of point-of-attack defenders. Jrue Holiday and Derrick White just held Jalen Brunson to 15 points on 6 of 21 from the field. They will mercilessly hound Herro and essentially slash his impact to a catch-and-shoot role. Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are capable Jimmy Butler defenders that will at least make him work for his shots. The Heat will subsequently find it extremely difficult to keep pace with Boston’s offense.
Overall, Miami’s outlook is concerning here, especially with Porzingis protecting the paint against this two-point centric offense. I am risking 2u on the Celtics winning here and avoiding the spread given Miami’s ability to make Celtics games closer than they should be.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Prediction: Celtics moneyline (2u)
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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Best Odds
The Boston Celtics are a massive 7.5 point favorite here, which is logical on paper given the rosters. For Miami’s +265 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, they must win here about 27% of the time.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Injuries
Off-season acquisition Josh Richardson (10.1 PPG, 36.5 3PT%) and Haywood Highsmith both remain out for Miami. On the other hand, Boston will be at full strength here.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Key Matchups
These teams own wildly different shot profiles. The Heat attempted only 22 threes in their opener, which is largely due to their two best players being non-perimeter shooters. Boston, on the other hand, attempted 39 threes and constantly sought kick-outs to the arc.
A 33 3PT% is equal to a 50 2PT% based on expected points per possession, so Miami is fighting a mathematical battle here. It’s not an automatic death sentence, as shot quality, shooting talent, free throws, and offensive rebounding all provide context to the matter. Essentially, this discrepancy means that the Celtics have more room for error than the Heat. Based on Boston’s stout defense and offensive talent, it will be an uphill climb for Miami.
The Heat ranked eighth in deflections and 3rd in opponent turnover percentage last year – few teams can wreak havoc like them. Miami forced 16 Detroit turnovers in their opener, and Boston committed 17 themselves. Careless turnovers and out of control ball handling have plagued Boston in recent years, so this is an area worth monitoring. If Miami can steal extra possessions, then they have a much better chance to match Boston’s offense.