The Heat lead the series 2-0 as they head back home to host the Celtics for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The game is expected to tip-off at 08:30 PM ET, Sunday, May 21st, 2023.
Given their success on the road in Games 1 and 2, it’s surprising the Heat come into Game 3 a 4.5 point underdog, with many expecting the Celtics to respond on the road in Miami.
The Heat will aim to continue their home winning streak and push the Celtics to the brink of elimination in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat, seeded eighth, have already won the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Boston, backed by strong performances from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Butler scored 27 points and Adebayo contributed 22 points in their 111-105 victory over the Celtics in the previous game.
The Heat’s success has been bolstered by their solid home record in the playoffs, having won all five home games so far. Miami’s coach Erik Spoelstra praised the offensive contributions of Butler and Adebayo, emphasizing their ability to lead the team and create opportunities. He also highlighted their defensive efforts, as they guarded multiple positions throughout the game.
Despite a strong performance from Jayson Tatum, who scored 34 points, the Celtics struggled to find their rhythm, particularly from beyond the arc. Tatum and Jaylen Brown made just 4 of 17 attempts from 3-point range. Nevertheless, Tatum remained optimistic, expressing confidence in himself and the team’s ability to bounce back in Game 3.
Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Miami, and if the Celtics fail to respond in Game 3, the Heat will be one step away from reaching the NBA Finals for the second time in four seasons.
ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
The Heat are an undeniable force to reckon with at this stage. Their flawless 5-0 home record in the postseason and the opportunity to practically seal the series in Game 3 make them a strong bet. A 3-0 lead for the Heat would leave little chance for a Boston comeback.
Despite Tatum’s talent, he has struggled in the fourth quarter, failing to score a single field goal and committing five turnovers. The coaching mismatch between Spoelstra and Joe Mazzulla becomes more evident with each passing quarter.
Butler’s relentless playoff intensity poses a significant challenge for the Celtics, and the fervent Heat crowd will add to their advantage. Miami’s dominance throughout the postseason, defying their 8th seed status, is a trend that is likely to continue in Game 3. Considering these factors, taking Miami with the points is the best bet for Game 3.
Spread: Celtics -4.5
Moneyline: Celtics -180, Heat +152
Pick: Miami +4.5
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