The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips for a showdown between Eastern Conference hopefuls Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
10:30 (AEDT), Thu 31st Mar @ TD Garden, Boston
History: Played 151: Celtics 88 V Heat 63
Last meeting: January 31, 2022: Celtics 122 d Heat 92 at TD Garden
Final Thoughts: The battle for the Eastern Conference title is at fever pitch. The 48-28 Miami Heat currently sit atop the conference, while the 47-29 Boston Celtics are fourth but still a genuine chance of claiming the top seed.
The Heat have emerged from a tough week – losing four straight to the 76ers, Warriors, Knicks and Nets – with a 123-100 victory over the Kings two days ago. Jimmy Butler (27 pts, 5 reb, 7 ast) and Bam Adebayo (22 pts, 15 reb) led the way, while unbackable Sixth Man of the Year favourite Tyler Herro (20 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast) shone from the bench.
The Celtics went on a 11-1 run, but a streak of six straight wins – five of them by 20-plus margins – came to an end two days ago with a 115-112 overtime loss to the Raptors two days ago. Star duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown missed the game, with Marcus Smart (28 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast) leading a team that had seven double-digit scorers.
Tatum, who is averaging 27.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists this season, and Brown are set to return today.
The Celtics have had the wood on the Heat this season, winning 95-78 in Miami – the only time the Heat have been held to less than 90 points this season – and 122-92 in Boston. Brown (29 pts) and Tatum (20 pts, 12 reb, 5 ast) starred in the latter game.
The Celtics are 26-12 at home this season (17-19-2 ATS), winning six of seven at TD Garden since the All-Star break. The Heat are 21-16 on the road (22-14-1 ATS); they have played just four away games since the All-Star break, winning two.
Miami are a quality team and rank fifth in the NBA defensively. But Boston have been the best team in the league over the past month and boast the top-ranked defence. The Celtics have won 24 of their last 29 and each of those victories were by a margin of six of more.
Best Bet: Handicap – Celtics -5.5 @ $1.93
Same Game Multi: Result – Celtics; Total – Over 213; Jayson Tatum Points – Over 27.5; To Record 10+ Rebounds – Bam Adebayo @ $7.62