We have finally made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and sports betting fans are in store for a great one. It’s the first time the Eastern Conference Finals haven’t featured a No. 1 or No. 2 seed since the NBA changed the playoff format in 1984.
The Miami Heat are meeting the Boston Celtics and each of these teams is laced with outstanding young talent, which has helped them get to where they are. The Heat came into the postseason as the No. 5 seed and many expected them to lose in the conference semifinals but they have far exceeded their expectations. Meanwhile, the Celtics were the No. 3 seed, but many questioned how far Jayson Tatum would be able to lead this team. Regardless, both have found themselves competing for a spot in the NBA finals.
Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics | Eastern Conference Finals
Date: Tuesday – 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Orlando, FL
NBA Series Odds: Celtics -135, Heat +115
Game 1: Tues, Sept. 15 Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, 6:30 p..m. (ESPN)
Game 2: Thurs, Sept 17 Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, TBD
Game 3: Sat, Sept 19 Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Game 4: Mon, Sept 21 Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat, TBD
Game 5*: Wed, Sept 23 Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, TBD
Game 6*: Fri, Sept 25 Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat, TBD
Game 7*: Sun, Sept 27 Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics, TBD
The Heat have been playing inspiring basketball throughout this postseason. They are 8-1 in their first two series, including a sweep against the Indiana Pacers and a 4-1 victory against the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks. They were a huge underdog in the sportsbook in that series but they easily cashed.
The Heat have been winning due to their competitiveness and toughness behind their leader Jimmy Butler. They also have a young cast that is developing sooner than expected. Players like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson are delivering at both ends of the court. They are stepping up big in clutch moments, which many rookies fail to do early in their careers. This entire roster has immense confidence in themselves and each other.
Heat Keys to Success
Without a doubt, Miami’s key player is Butler as he is the clear face of the team. He has averaged just over 23 points per game throughout the postseason and has also been proving that he is an elite defender, with the ability to clamp down on the opposing team’s best player night after night. That’ll be the key to this series as the Celtics have not seen a defense like the Heat just yet. Butler & Co. slowed the top offense (regular season) in the NBA so can Boston handle this type of intensity? We’ll find out.
The Celtics are coming off of a seven-game series against the reigning champions, the Toronto Raptors. They were also able to sweep the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round but Toronto offered more resistance. They enter the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in the last four years.
The Celtics are incredibly well-balanced with many different threats across their roster. Guys like Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Tatum all have the ability to completely take over at any given time, which makes Boston such a scary team. The Heat got through the Bucks, perennial playoff underachievers. They simply had to cut off Giannis Antetokounmpo from driving and the rest was easy. The Celtics are multi-faceted with outside shooting, driving, and size.
Tatum has been the No. 1 option for this team, averaging just over 25 points throughout the first two series. He’s become a star in the playoffs and Brown is not far behind. The Celtics will need them to play at his best if they want to take down this confident Heat team. However, they will be getting a major boost to their lineup if Gordan Hayward is able to return to action. He had been out with an injury after only playing one game throughout this year’s playoffs and his return will add another wrinkle to the Celtics offense. The Celtics did look like they were short on depth in Round 2.
Celtics Keys to Success
For Boston, there are many different key players. Tatum will need to continue to live up to his sky-high expectations in this series with efficient scoring. He will have to do so while being the defenses main focus. Besides Tatum, they will need another guy to step up big time in order to give themselves, and edge and so far, it has been Marcus Smart. He has been huge game after game both offensively and defensively. He has averaged 13 points per game and just over one steal per game, but also plays with enormous energy and spirit. His presence on the court is unmatched and may cause Miami issues.