The Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics face off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. The Heat advanced through the 2022 NBA playoff bracket with a strong victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, while the Celtics came back from a 3-2 deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks. Miami hosts Game 1 at FTX Arena, with Boston aiming to steal home-court advantage. Marcus Smart (foot) is listed as questionable for the Celtics. Kyle Lowry (hamstring) is out for the Heat, with P.J. Tucker (calf), Max Strus (hamstring), Caleb Martin (ankle) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring) listed as questionable.
Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET in Miami. Caesars Sportsbook lists Miami as the two-point home favorite, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 204 in the latest Celtics vs. Heat odds. Before making any Heat vs. Celtics picks or NBA playoff predictions, be sure to see what SportsLine expert Mike Barner has to say.
Barner is one of the most respected voices in the industry, and his work has appeared in Sports Illustrated and on Yahoo, RotoWire and KFFL. He’s also been featured on ESPN Radio. He digs deep into the data, examining team trends and projecting game outcomes. If there’s anybody who can spot an edge in a matchup or identify a player in position to break out, it’s him.
Barner’s expertise has been on full display lately. He is on an amazing 36-25 run with his last 61 against-the-spread NBA picks involving the Heat, returning $845 to $100 players.
- Celtics vs. Heat spread: Heat -2
- Celtics vs. Heat over-under: 204 points
- Celtics vs. Heat money line: Heat -130, Celtics +110
- Celtics vs. Heat tickets: See tickets at StubHub
- BOS: The Celtics are 8-3 against the spread in playoff games
- MIA The Heat are 7-4 against the spread in playoff games
Featured Game | Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
Why the Celtics can cover
Boston’s defense is unquestionably elite. The Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating this season, allowing only 106.2 points per 100 possessions. Boston also led the league in field goal percentage allowed, 3-point percentage allowed, 2-point percentage allowed and assists allowed, with an overwhelmingly positive defensive profile. In the postseason, that dominance has continued, with opponents scoring only 105.2 points per 100 possessions against Boston. The Celtics are limiting the opposition to 44.3 percent shooting overall and 32.9 percent from 3-point range.
Boston is also limiting opponents to only 20.2 assists per game and blocking 6.0 shots per game, with the Celtics bringing strong offensive traits to the table. Boston is shooting 37 percent from 3-point range and over 80 percent from the free throw line in the playoffs, averaging 25.1 assists and only 13.2 turnovers per game. The Celtics are assisting on more than 65 percent of field goals in the playoffs, and Boston is led by a dynamic creator in Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 28.3 points per game in the postseason.
Why the Heat can cover
Miami enjoyed the breeziest path to the conference finals, and the Heat are rewarded by a significant rest advantage in Game 1. The Heat are out-scoring opponents by 9.8 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs, the best mark in the league by a notable margin, and Miami is posting elite-level efficiency marks on both offense and defense. The Heat led the NBA in 3-point shooting during the regular season, converting 37.9 percent of attempts, and Miami is maintaining strong shooting efficiency in the playoffs. Miami is shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and 80.1 percent from the free throw line, leading to more than 1.14 points per possession.
The Heat also project to have an advantage on the offensive glass, grabbing 31.6 percent of missed shots in the first two rounds. On defense, Miami utterly flummoxed Trae Young in the first round and clamped down on Joel Embiid in the second round, yielding fewer than 1.05 points per possession overall. That comes on the heels of a top-five defensive efficiency in the regular season, and opponents are shooting only 44.1 percent from the floor and 33.2 percent from 3-point distance against Miami in the playoffs.
How to make Heat vs. Celtics picks
For Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Barner is leaning under on the point total, but he also says a critical X-factor makes one side a must-back. He’s only sharing what it is, and which side of the Celtics vs. Heat matchup to back, at SportsLine.
So who wins Celtics vs. Heat? And which side is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of Celtics vs. Heat you need to jump on, all from the expert who has crushed its NBA picks, and find out.