NBA playoffs: Betting odds, picks, schedule as Celtics fight to even series vs. Heat

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

Pat Riley likes to say that a playoff series doesn’t truly begin until the home team loses. Well, there are no home teams in the Orlando bubble, but the logic applies to favorites. The Boston Celtics, after manhandling the Philadelphia 76ers and winning a not-quite-as-close-as-it-looked series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors, justifiably entered their second-round series against the Miami Heat as both the higher seed and the favorite. They proceeded to blow a fourth-quarter lead and lose the game in overtime. Ladies and gentlemen, the Eastern Conference Finals have begun. 

Now the Heat stand three games away from the NBA Finals, and the Celtics have already entered now or never mode. They just watched what a lack of urgency did to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics will do everything in their power to avoid that fate, and that is the underlying theme of today’s best bets. 

Eastern finals, Game 2



7 p.m.


BOS -2.5


All lines via William Hill

Celtics -2.5

The power of urgency has been on display time and again in these playoffs. The Bucks didn’t win a game against the Heat until they were down 3-0. The Nuggets have come back from 3-1 deficits twice. Even the Celtics watched the Raptors claw their way back from the brink of elimination several times before ultimately falling short. A desperate version of the Celtics is likely to be on display in Game 2. The Heat manufacture desperation better than anyone, but in a series this close, the trailing team should be given a slight boost on that alone. 

Under 208.5

Game 1 of this series saw 31 total 3-pointers and still only got to 212 in regulation. A bit of shooting regression is all this series needs to turn into the rock fight Boston and Toronto played through. Miami’s half-court offense is better than Toronto’s, but the Celtics defended Jimmy Butler well and sustainably. A game’s worth of adjustments should only help the cause in stopping everyone else. 

Jaylen Brown under 19.5 points

Brown got to 17 points in Game 1, but he needed to shoot 3-of-4 from behind the arc to do so. That probably isn’t repeating, and Brown is dealing with a groin injury right now. Odds are, Kemba Walker improves from his Game 1 struggles, and that tilts the offense a bit further away from Brown, who will still contribute in a number of ways, but is likely due for a bit less scoring. 

Who wins and covers every NBA playoff game? Visit SportsLine now to see the uncanny predictions from an advanced computer model that’s up over $5,000 this season.  

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