Do the Miami Heat Stand a Chance vs the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Nov 6, 2023 07:00 PM
Do the Miami Heat Stand a Chance vs the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals?

After a near miss against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics have made it back to the Eastern Conference Finals. And they'll be facing a familiar foe in this best-of-seven set. The Miami Heat are back in the conference finals as well—despite entering the playoffs through the play-in tournament.

Which team will prevail this time around? We'll get to that shortly. But first, here's everything you need to know about the start of the Eastern Conference Finals:

  • What: Celtics vs. Heat Game 1
  • Date: Wednesday, May 17
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. EST
  • Where: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Series Score: 0-0

Some thought Boston's shaky showing in Round 2 might earn them the distrust of the gambling public. It turns out that's not the case. As the latest 2023 NBA playoff betting odds show, the Celtics are heavily favored over the Heat in Game 1:

To WinBovadaBetOnlineBetUS
Boston Celtics-360-350-350
Miami Heat+290+275+285

Please remember to check these online NBA playoff betting odds until you actually submit your wager. Our Celtics vs. Heat betting odds are accurate as of Monday, May 15. That gives linemakers plenty of time to implement last-minute adjustments ahead of opening tip-off on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. EST. 

As for potential line changes, they aren't an issue if you join up with the right sportsbook. We can help with that. Our reviews of the top online sportsbooks have all the information you need to spot the best online betting sites for the NBA playoffs.

Meanwhile, for anyone who hasn't followed this postseason too closely, they might wonder why so many believe the Heat are a worthy opponent for the Celtics. Not only is Miami an eight-seed, but they're without both Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo. Surely the offense cannot hang for an entire series. And yet, the Heat have already knocked off the first-place Milwaukee Bucks and semifinals-favored New York Knicks. Their defense is a force to be reckoned with, and it would be foolish for anyone to write them off when they've made it this far already.

Can You Trust the Boston Celtics to Take Care of Business on Shorter Rest Than the Miami Heat in Game 1?

If you're waiting for linemakers to show less faith in the Celtics, well, you won't be going anywhere in the near future. In fact, Boston currently has the best odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals. How's that for a lack of faith?

Still, there are some fair concerns here. Boston has flashed issues with ball movement and turnovers. They have the second-best offense for the playoffs—and rank first in half-court efficiency—but their your-turn, my-turn gimmicks can set them back for quarters at a time. This is not a roster that attacks the basket consistently, and they can fall in love with junky mid-rangers. Miami will gobble them up if they make those mistakes. Few teams are better at forcing turnovers and scoring off misses.

At the same time, the Heat's offense can be touch-and-go. They are very reliant on getting to the foul line and having their supporting cast members knock down open three-pointers. That wasn't an issue in Round 1. It was a problem in Round 2. The Heat shot just 31 percent, as a team, on wide-open triples over the final three games. 

Even when they're at their best, Miami is going to drain fewer triples than Boston. The Celtics are, essentially, starting off every game with a nine-point advantage, and there will be night when it's larger. If the series devolves into a slugfest, it will help the Heat. But we're betting, at least initially, that the Celtics' offense is too much for them to handle.

OSB Prediction: Boston Celtics (-360)

Boston Celtics To beat the Miami Heat

Expect Game 1 Between Boston and Miami to Come Down to the Wire

The Heat have opened up each of their first two series with a victory on the road. The Celtics, meanwhile, have lost three games at home through each of the first two rounds. Factor in shorter rest for Boston, and obviously the line on Game 1 will be exceedingly close. Or...maybe not. Check out the latest point spread betting odds for Heats vs. Celtics Game 1 below:

  • Boston Celtics, -8 (-110)
  • Miami Heat, +8 (-110)

This feels like an overly ambitious spread. The Celtics' shorter rest might be overstated, since they blew out the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7. But the Heat have fresher legs overall and will grind the half-court pace down to a slog and make Boston work deep into the shot clock.

Plus, though Game 1s are always a feeling-out process for both sides, there are fewer questions about how Miami will play (shot selection, lineup structures, rotations, etc.). If the Celtics start rattling off wins by double digits, it'll be later on in the series.

OSB Prediction: Miami Heat, +8 (-110)

Miami Heat To cover the point spread against the Boston Celtics

Will Defense Prevail in Celtics vs. Heat?

Miami's offense has struggled for much of this season. It rallied during the Milwaukee series but largely came back down to earth by the end of Round 2. If they're going to have a chance against the Celtics, they'll need to control the pace and style of play.

Based off the latest over/under betting odds for Celtics vs. Heat Game 1, linemakers seem to think Miami will indeed dictate the terms of engagement:

  • Over 210.5 (-110)
  • Under 210.5 (-110)

In the interest of honesty, there's no great answer here. The Celtics' shot-making variability has us nervous, and we could easily see their offense falling off if they decide to lean on two-big combinations.

At the end of the day, though, a combined total of 211 points seems pretty feasible. The Celtics take and make enough threes to hold up their end of the bargain, and the Heat are averaging over 113 points per game while having failed to eclipse the 100-point threshold just once all postseason.

OSB Prediction: Over 210.5 (-110)

Heat and Celtics To score over 210.5 combined points

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your NBA playoffs betting:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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