East Finals, Game 5: Boston at Miami

As of early this afternoon, Boston's Marcus Smart (ankle) was listed as 'questionable' for tonight's Game 5 at Miami.

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Line: Boston -2.5

Total: 203.5

Where: FTX Arena

When: Wednesday, 5/25 at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Miami and Boston will resume their up-and-down series with Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night.

The Celtics were able to level the series with a 102-82 blowout win on Monday night. Miami remains in control of home court advantage, but it has now been blown out twice in the last three games.

Boston opened as a 1.5-point favorite for Game 5, but that number was up to 2.5 this afternoon. Tonight’s total opened at 203.5 and hasn’t seen any movement.

The Heat were 4.5-point favorites at home to open the series and were 1-point favorites in Game 2, so there has been a shift in opinion within the betting market. They could be without shooting guard Tyler Herro, who missed Monday’s game due to a groin injury.

Herro, who is averaging 13.5 points per game during this postseason, is officially listed as ‘questionable.’ Boston is dealing with an injury issue of its own, as point guard Marcus Smart also missed Game 4 due to an ankle injury. Smart is the team’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs, pouring in 40 combined points in Game’s 2 and 3—he is also ‘questionable.’

Miami had six key players on its injury report heading into Monday night’s game, including Herro, Jimmy Butler, Kyler Lowry, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and P.J. Tucker. Herro was the only player to miss the game completely, but Miami was clearly hampered by those injuries.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum outscored Miami’s starters by himself, posting 31 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. Butler was held to six points on 3 of 14 shooting, while Lowry went 1 of 6 for three points. The starters’ 18 combined points were the fewest by a starting lineup in a playoff game since the NBA started tracking that data in 1970.

Victor Oladipo came off the bench to lead Miami with 23 points, outscoring his own starting lineup. Boston jumped out to a 26-4 lead in the early going and never looked back.

The current betting total would close as the second-lowest total of any playoff game this year, trailing only Game 1 of this series (203). Miami’s defense leads the NBA in points allowed per game in the playoffs (100.7 PPG), while Boston ranks third (102.1 PPG). However, the ‘over’ cashed in the first three games of this series.

Miami is at its best when its defense is playing well. The Heat have gone ‘under’ in 10 of their last 15 games, including six of their last nine as underdogs. Neither team has been great offensively this postseason, with Boston ranked seventh (108.8 PPG) and Miami ranked ninth (105.9 PPG).

The Celtics did not shoot particularly well from beyond the arc in Game 4, knocking down just 8 of 34 attempts. Their starting lineup made just 4 of 22 from distance, as the teams combined to shoot a collective 36.3 percent from the floor.

Boston has covered the spread in 14 of its last 19 games—the Celtics have been even more impressive on the road, covering in 10 of their last 11 contests. Something will have to give on Wednesday night, as Miami has won 10 of its last 11 home games. The Heat have covered in four of their last six outings overall.

The pick: Boston -2.5

Miami should be in a little better shape on the injury front on Wednesday night, but I am still not interested in backing the Heat at this number. Their starters were banged up heading into Game 4 and proceeded to produce the worst statistics of any starting lineup in the postseason dating back to 1970. Boston did not play particularly well and still cruised to a blowout win. The Celtics have not been bothered by road atmospheres, covering the spread in 10 of their last 11 games away from home. Tatum and Jaylen Brown provide too much of a scoring punch for an injured Miami squad to deal with, and Herro’s injury hurts Miami more than Smart’s injury hurts Boston.

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