Shane McNichol makes his NBA predictions as the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat face off in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston Celtics to win
Say what you will about the emotional state of this Boston team, especially compared to the sky-high vibes of the Miami Heat, but it’s hard to imagine the Celtics laying down without a fight here. I felt bold taking Miami to win the series in six games prior to Game 1. Picking a Miami sweep was being offered at odds north of +40000!
Boston wants to bring this series back to its home floor and, in theory, has some extra help doing so. Notorious referee Scott Foster will be on the call, having earned the nickname “The Extender” for his work keeping series alive. Prior to this postseason, the team trailing the series had won 22 of the last 27 playoff games Foster officiated.
Boston is struggling but too talented and motivated to be swept.
Jayson Tatum first field goal
Much has been made of the Celtics’ star forward’s late game struggles, but that gives Boston plenty of incentive to try to get Tatum going early in the game.
The most underlooked piece of the first bucket bet comes as soon as the game starts: the opening tip. So far in this series, Boston has won the tap in all three games, giving a major leg up to any Celtic to score first.
Tatum has looked to get into the scoring column early. Across the three games in this series, he’s taken five shots in the first three minutes of game play, making him a prime candidate to kick off the scoring in this one.
Jimmy Butler under 0.5 made 3-pointers
It feels odd to bet against the hottest player in the world right now, yet it’s easy to forget that even in this era of pacing and spacing in the NBA, Butler’s throwback game succeeds mostly in the midrange and at the rim.
Butler has made a three in just 46 per cent of Miami’s postseason games and has only attempted more than one shot from long range 62 per cent of the time this postseason. Even when scoring 35 points in a first-round win over the Bucks, Butler was just 0-1 from downtown.
He didn’t make a three in Game 2 or 3 and I like the value on betting that streak continues.
Bam Adebayo under 31.5 points + rebounds + assists
The Miami big man has been plenty productive this postseason, yet this prop sets a lofty goal. He’s only reached this mark in six of Miami’s 14 playoff games so far this season. In a few of those outings, Adebayo has stuffed the stat sheet and well exceeded this number, yet more often than not, even while playing well, he’s come up short.
Against Boston, he’s topped this amount in two of the first three games of the series, leaving the smart money on the under here.