No one expected the Boston Celtics to be here, on the verge of losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. And never mind just losing. They're on the verge of getting swept. Can Boston avoid what feels like an inevitable elimination in Game 4?
We'll get to the answer. But first, here's everything you need to know ahead of Tuesday night's matchup:
- What: Heat vs. Celtics Game 4
- Date: Tuesday, May 23
- Time: 8:30 p.m. EST
- Where: Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida
- Series Score: Miami leads Boston, 3-0
No team in NBA history has ever successfully come back from a 3-0 series deficit. Could the Celtics become the first? The latest 2023 NBA playoff betting odds don't seem to think so. In fact, as you'll see below, this is the first game of the entire series in which Boston doesn't enter as the favorite:
You will still want to double-check these odds on the NBA playoffs until you actually submit your wager. Our Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics betting odds are accurate as of Monday, May 22. Linemakers will invariably adjust the numbers prior to opening tip-off on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. EST.
But you don't need to worry about any last-minute changes if you're signed up with the right sportsbook. And we can help with that. Our reviews of the best online sportsbooks have all the information you need to spot the top betting sites for the NBA in 2023.
Anyway, oddsmakers have clearly written off the Celtics. That makes sense when looking at the series odds. They're facing a monstrous deficit. But should you take Boston as a more serious threat to win Game 4? Let's find out.
Why the Boston Celtics Should Be Able to Hold Off the Miami Heat in Game 4
Many pundits have come out and said the Celtics aren't mentally tough enough to hang with the Heat in Game 4. It's hard to fault those arguments. Boston was absolutely outclassed in Game 3, with their season ostensibly on the line. They have also battled issues with turnovers and poor shot selection on the biggest stage in the past. Just look at their trip to the 2022 NBA Finals, which ended in a series loss, despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead over the Golden State Warriors.
Still, this is the same team that entered the playoffs with the top odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals. They didn't just forget how to play basketball. Boston is shooting 29.2 percent from long distance for the series and is a minus-39 from beyond the arc overall. That's not going to hold. The Heat's defense is incredible, but by most shot quality metrics, Boston is actually generating higher percentage looks. They're just not making them. Some of their shot-making should normalize even though they're still on the road in Game 4.
None of which should be taken as a harbinger for the rest of this series. It's important to recognize the Celtics' situation is largely hopeless. They are not going to win this series. Not after falling behind 3-0. Not after getting blown out in Game 3. And most certainly not when from the coaches to the players, it sounded like they were resigned to defeat this past Sunday night.
Whether this Boston team has the emotional backbone to delay the inevitable is a real question. We believe they do. Their turnover woes might continue. But they're going to play better defensively, and some of Miami' supporting cast members should cool off. Expect the Celtics to force a Game 5.
OSB Prediction: Boston Celtics (+100)
Oddsmakers Continue to Bill Game 4 Between Boston and Miami as Too Close to Call
You might think the point spread betting odds for Heat vs. Celtics would feature a larger gap after the way Game 3 ended. Instead, however, we're being treated to the smallest differential of the series, as you can see below:
- Miami Heat, -1.5 (-110)
- Boston Celtics, +1.5 (-110)
There's no value here unless you're wagering on the Heat. A -110 payout for winning by two or more points ever so slightly beats out the -118 they're laying at most sportsbooks.
If you're thinking of betting on the Celtics, you're better off rolling the dice on a 1-to-1 payout from their moneyline. You can also consider parlaying their moneyline with the spread. Not all sportsbooks will allow it, but some will. And parlaying a Celtics win with their point spread takes your payout to roughly 2.7-to-1.
OSB Prediction: Boston Celtics, +1.5 (-110)
Linemakers are Bracing for the Celtics and Heat to Play Stingy Defense
The average final score of this Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics series checks in around 228 points. The latest over/under betting odds for Game 4 suggest the experts don't see the final tally getting so high this time around:
- Over 216.5 (-110)
- Under 216.5 (-110)
Linemakers, along with the betting population, appear to think the Celtics will lay an egg in Game 4. That's not unreasonable after Game 3. At the same time, the Celtics know they're facing major changes over the summer if they go out like this, in a series sweep. We'd expect them to come out with more energy in Game 4 than they did on Sunday night.
Even if Boston flops, they're still liable to knock down more of their threes. And while the Heat's non-stars shouldn't continue shooting a trillion percent from long distance until the end of time, multiple studies have shown role players tend to fare better at home. There shouldn't be a huge drop-off in Miami's offense on Tuesday night.
This is all to say, we don't think Game 4 will be the lowest-scoring tilt of this series. On the contrary, we expect the final total score to be closer to 230 than 215.
OSB Prediction: Over 216.5 (-110)
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your 2023 NBA playoffs betting: