The Celtics continue to stave off elimination. After dropping the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals to the eighth-seeded Heat, No. 2 Boston won both Games 4 and 5 by double digits to keep alive the slim hope of pulling off the first-ever 3–0 comeback in NBA history.
Miami now heads back to South Florida for Game 6, where it will be a 3-point underdog in front of its fans with the opportunity to return to the Finals with a win or risk going back to TD Garden for what’s sure to be a raucous Game 7 on Monday. The C’s won on the road Tuesday and took three of four away games against the Heat in the 2022 conference finals.
Below are three betting picks as well as a key question for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which tips off Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Jayson Tatum Rises to the Occasion: Bet Jayson Tatum Over 30.5
The Celtics didn’t need Jayson Tatum to have a big scoring night to take Game 5. He went for an efficient 21 points on 50% shooting and flashed his playmaking chops with 11 assists. But it might take another 30-plus points from Boston’s star player to win on the road over the weekend. He scored 33 last time he was in Miami and has finished with 30 or more three times already in the series. Tatum will need to get to the free-throw line to have a big outing offensively considering he’s shooting just 29% from beyond the arc in the series — he attempted 23 free throws in the first two games of the ECF but just nine since.
Jimmy Butler Does it All: Bet Jimmy Butler Over 34.5 Points + Assists
Butler’s numbers are down so far against the Celtics and he just scored a playoff-low 14 points Thursday. As the series shifts back to Miami, his team will need him to call his own number and facilitate the way he did in Games 1 and 2. Butler scored 35 points in the series opener and hasn’t cracked 30 since. He also dished seven dimes in that game, his highest assist total in the conference finals. Butler has gone under his combined points and assists prop in his last four games but Game 6 is when he’ll return to form and stuff the stat sheet in the same manner he did against Milwaukee.
Boston’s Defense Keeps the Scoring in Check: Bet Under 210
The under has hit in each of the last two ECF games after the series opened with three straight overs. The line for Game 6 is down to 210, the lowest it’s been since Game 1, which was set at 212.5. The Heat have failed to hit 100 points in two consecutive games and even though both offenses shot 50% from the field in Game 5, they still combined to score a meager 207 points even with the Celtics teeing off from beyond the arc — the total in that contest closed at 215. Look for the pace to slow down to a crawl in what will feel like a Game 7 atmosphere in Miami.
Can the Celtics Force a Game 7?
The magic number for Boston has been 40%. The team is 38–2 when it hits at least 40% of its three-pointers this season, a feat it accomplished in each of its last two games. History says if the Celtics can do that again, they’re likely to be playing for a chance to return to the NBA Finals back on their home floor on Memorial Day. The status of Gabe Vincent (ankle) will be vital to the Heat’s hopes of wrapping things up at home. He missed Game 5 and Miami committed 16 turnovers with its starting point guard sidelined. Of course, much of the battle will come down to Tatum vs. Butler, the two best players in this series, but Jaylen Brown or Bam Adebayo are also both capable of swinging the outcome as well.
NBA Playoffs Betting Record: 27–27
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