Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics have eliminated the defending champion Toronto Raptors. They face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Photo from @nbastats (Twitter).
- The Boston Celtics face the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals
- Boston just got past the Toronto Raptors with a tough Game 7 win Friday night
- Read below for odds, analysis and our Game 1 prediciton
There will be a new NBA champion this season, after the Boston Celtics eliminated the Toronto Raptors in a gruelling second-round series that went to the end of Game 7 to finally determine a winner.
There’s not much time for the C’s to celebrate their 92-87 win. On deck Sunday is the well-rested and super-confident Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Final, with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
Surprisingly, the Heat vs Celtics odds aren’t pointing south, with Boston beginning as a 1-point favorite in Game 1.
Heat vs Celtics Game 1 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Miami Heat||+1 (-110)||-102||N/A|
|Boston Celtics||-1 (-110)||-116||N/A|
Odds taken September 11th. Tip-off is Sunday at 6:40pm ET
In a season unlike any other, this will mark the first time since the NBA went to the 16-team playoff format in 1984 that the Eastern Conference Finals will not feature either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. So now comes the big question: should you roll with the third-seeded Celtics or the fifth-seeded Heat?
Boston Outlasts The Champs
In a slugfest of a Game 7, Boston shot 40.7% from the field, including an icy 9-for-38 from three-point range, while shooting a woeful 13-for-23 from the free throw line and somehow managed the squeeze through.
The Celtics’ defensive effort was the difference, as they held the Raptors to just 41.3% shooting from the field and 8-for-28 from three-point range. The real clincher was their ability to turn the Raptors over. The best team in the playoffs at protecting the ball, Toronto coughed it up 18 times, and Boston turned those valuable extra possessions into 31 points.
🔥 @jaytatum0 comes up HUGE in GAME 7! 🔥
29 PTS | 12 REB | 7 AST | 4 3PM
ECF begin Tues. (9/15) on ESPN pic.twitter.com/ftHiZw88cb
— NBA (@NBA) September 12, 2020
Offensively, the Celtics were led by their young duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. After failing close out the Raptors in Game 6, Tatum 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and was the go-to player down the stretch.
Jayson Tatum just wanted it more. Kobe things. #MambaMentality pic.twitter.com/Qn2ntExg5X
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 12, 2020
He scored 18 points in the second half, but his best play came in the dying seconds of the game, racing past Norman Powell to grab a rebound off a Grant Williams free throw miss, essentially putting the game on ice.
Brown finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and a game-high four steals. Boston had 12 steals in the game to Toronto’s one.
Heat Rolling In The Playoffs
Miami has just one playoff loss in the bubble, sweeping the Pacers and trouncing the Bucks — the top seed in the playoffs — in five games.
With Toronto bounced, Miami easily possesses the deepest roster left standing. They have plenty of good things going for them, staring with their go-to guy in Jimmy Butler, who has led the team in scoring five times these playoffs.
More of this.
🔥 @JimmyButler pic.twitter.com/nKuf8wOuJh
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 8, 2020
But they also have a bevy of offensive options in the form of both shot makers and play makers. Bam Adebayo facilitates from the center spot, while Goran Dragic is playing at an all-star level. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala are all legitimate rotation players, and all have taken at least a spin at showcasing.
The last NINE NBA Finals have included the Heat or Andre Iguodala.
2011-14: Miami Heat
2015-19: Andre Iguodala
Now, Igudoala is on the Heat. 👀 pic.twitter.com/sfZZKTO8mT
— Persevere (@PersevereSocial) September 9, 2020
They’re the third-highest scoring team left in the postseason, putting up better than 112 points a game, but their bread-and-butter is at the other end of the court. Miami grinds better than any team because their defense always shows up. They are second in opponents points per game allowed and second in defensive rating.
What’s The Best Bet?
While we expect Miami to bring the defense, the top defensive team in these playoffs are the Boston Celtics. They are first in defensive rating, allowing the fewest points per game, while holding opponents to both the lowest field goal (40.5%) and three-point (30.5%) percentage.
Miami is the third-best three-point shooting team left in the playoffs, hitting at 38%, which will likely be a key factor in how the series plays out.
But this first game is going to be tough for Boston: they’ve just finished off one of the toughest outs in hoops, and get a no-nonsense, get-after-you group on just a day rest.
Jump on this early line for the Heat.
The pick: Heat +1 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.