The Miami Heat visit the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday. The Heat try to get back on track after suffering a 127-102 beatdown in Game 2.
Game 3 Key: Jimmy Butler Needs Help
Jimmy Butler got no help in Game 2. The Heat can’t rely on their star getting 40 points or more to have a chance on each contest. Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo had 14 points apiece but with Kyle Lowry (plus-1.9 Box Plus/Minus in the regular season) still out, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson have to really step up or this series will end quickly.
This is Miami’s greatest challenge in this series. How long will their lockdown defense hold up? Boston has shot makers and great offense always beats great defense if great defense can’t score.
X-Factors for Both Teams
Tyler Herro can make a difference in Game 3. Herro was Miami’s best offensive player in the regular season but he has not been as consistent in the playoffs. The Heat need Herro’s best version on Saturday. He had 11 points in 24 minutes off the bench in Game 2 and he missed the three 3-point shots he attempted.
The Heat will struggle to keep up with the Celtics if their aggressive defense targets Herro in Game 3 and he can’t handle it.
Jaylen Brown was nasty for the Celtics. As an elite shot maker, Brown is the key in Game 3. He has to impose his will early and go shot for shot with Jimmy Butler.
The other X-Factors were Marcus Smart and Al Horford. As expected both impacted the game on offense and defense and the Celtics are now 25-4 when Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, Marcus Smart and Al Horford all play in the same game since January 8
I don’t think the Heat can score enough. I think they can get the stops I just don’t think they can score in timely moments.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Miami Heat: 3.25
• Boston Celtics: 1.38
• Miami Heat: +6.5 (1.91)
• Boston Celtics: -6.5 (1.90)
• Over 208.5 (1.88)
• Under 208.5 (1.93)
The Heat are:
• 18-8 ATS in their last 26 games as an underdog
• 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
• 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
• 10-3 ATS in the last 13 meetings in Boston
The Celtics are:
• 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win
• 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games following a straight up win
For the Heat, Jimmy Butler is projected to finish with 24.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists, making 7.4 field goals in 18.3 attempts.
For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum is expected to score 26.2 points with 7.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists, making 8.1 field goals in 18.8 attempts.
Heat +6.5 (1.91)
Three-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the Heat in this one. Average score in simulations is Boston Celtics 107.1 to Miami Heat 105.6.
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