The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat rekindle a rivalry that was established in the NBA bubble in Orlando. These two teams were fighting to get into the 2020 NBA Finals, the Heat advancing to play the Los Angeles Lakers after winning the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. Things are a bit different on both sides this season. Miami is struggling to get stability while the Celtics are starting to peak a bit.
There are a few key injuries to go over, mostly on the Boston side. Marcus Smart (thumb) and Jeff Teague (ankle) are both questionable to play. If one or both of them sits again, that may impact how we look at the lines. So right now, this is a prediction based on the Celtics without these two guards. We’ll update as the day goes on.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Pick ATS: Celtics +2.5
The Celtics just beat the hell out of the Toronto Raptors without Smart and Teague. So the depth isn’t really an issue when you have a tight rotation. The Celtics clearly don’t lose much on offense without Smart and Teague. Smart provides great defense but that can be compensated for through the play of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Rookie guard Payton Pritchard played well off the bench as the replacement guard for Smart and Teague.
Meanwhile the Heat have had issues on offense, ranking 24th in offensive efficiency despite sporting some decent shooting splits. It’s clear Jimmy Butler is still working back to 100 percent from his ankle injury. Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson haven’t played particularly well early in the season. Outside of Bam Adebayo, the Heat don’t have much to protect the paint. This could be an issue with Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson and Tatum lurking. My early lean is Celtics with the points. If Smart and Teague end up playing the line will almost definitely shift to either a pick ‘em or the Celtics being favored.
Player Prop: Jaylen Brown O29.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-122)
If Smart and/or Teague are sidelined, this number is way too low. Brown is averaging 26.7 points per game this season alone ... Last game, Brown scored just 19 points against the Raptors with the Celtics shorthanded. That was mostly because the Celtics were up big by halftime. Brown still cleared 27 total pts/rebs/asts, so not far off this number. If we get inconsistent Heat defense, Brown should get the touches to get over this number. He’s also a better rebounder than his numbers suggest. Last season, Brown averaged 6.4 boards per game. Now he’s down to 4.6 per game. Tack on a few extra assists if Smart and Teague are out as well.
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