After beating the Bucks and Nets, Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics now head to Miami to face Jimmy Butler and the Heat in a battle of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics and Heat also met in the Eastern Conference finals in 2020 at Walt Disney World, with Miami beating Boston in six games.
Tatum and Butler will provide plenty of entertainment in the series as both are among the top five scorers this postseason. Tatum is coming off a pair of 40-point games over the past two rounds, including his 46-point performance in Game 6 against the Bucks, while Butler scored over 30 points in three of his past four games.
Our betting experts break down the Eastern Conference finals and give their tips and plays for Game 1.
All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
What you need to know for Celtics-Heat Game 1
Banking on Bam: There is no shortage of star power in this series, and it's possible that the prop market is a little inefficient when it comes to evaluating Bam Adebayo. The Celtics are the second-best defense in terms of points per possession. The books are well aware of that and have lowered the Heat's expectations accordingly, but is that the right move? Adebayo has averaged 18.4 points on 54.8% shooting, 10 rebounds and 4.3 assists against top-10 defenses this season. His point and rebound totals might be a low, but his assist number is one to keep an eye on against a Boston team that is coming off a grueling series with Milwaukee.
-- Jim McCormick & Kyle Soppe
Breaking down Game 1
Line: Heat (-4)
Money line: Heat (-180), Celtics (+155)
Total: 204 points
BPI Projected Total: 209.3 points
BPI Win%: Heat (62.2%)
Notable: Unders are 9-2 in Miami games this postseason (in those nine "unders," the Heat have covered six times).
Best bet: Heat to win series (+155). The Heat have the best defense the Celtics have faced this postseason. Miami is excellent at switching defenders and will challenge Boston more than the Bucks and Nets did. Erik Spoelstra is an experienced coach who can adapt using different personnel groups and styles. -- Eric Moody
Best bet: Celtics to win series in 6 games (-1.5, +105). These two teams match up very well, with elite defenses and wing-led offenses. The Celtics went 2-1 against the Heat in the regular season, with both of their wins being blowouts. Boston has a more diverse offense and suffocating defense. They should be able to win this series. -- Andre Snellings
Best bet: Jimmy Butler over 37.5 points + assists + rebounds. Butler is going to have to carry a lot of the load for the Heat, but he is capable of delivering on the big stage. He is a proficient shooter both inside and outside the paint and has averaged 28.7 PPG, 5.4 APG and 7.6 RPG during the postseason. Butler's momentum should continue in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. -- Eric Moody
Best bet: Jaylen Brown over 23.5 points. Brown has averaged 16.5 FGM and 22.2 PPG this postseason. Given the history of these two teams, this series will be switch heavy on defense, with Jayson Tatum drawing most of the attention. There is a possibility of a mismatch with Brown going up against the Heat's lesser defenders. -- Moody
Best bet: Heat -1.5. I'm laying the -1.5 with Miami for three key reasons: First, the Heat enter Game 1 on five days of rest as opposed to a Celtics squad that won a Game 7 on Sunday and now has a road game in South Florida 48 hours later. Second, Miami has been excellent at home this year, winning 29 games during the regular season (most in the Eastern Conference and fourth most in the NBA) before posting a 6-0 mark SU and 5-1 ATS this postseason. Finally, Boston is headed for a shooting regression after knocking down a healthy 39.7% of its 3-point attempts in Games 6 and 7 against Milwaukee, especially when you consider the fact that Miami ranked first in the NBA in 3-point defense this season (33.9 percent). -- Joe Fortenbaugh
Best bet: Jayson Tatum under 28.5 points. Tatum has averaged 28.2 PPG this postseason, with 29 or more points in seven of his 11 outings. So why the rush to bet the under here? For starters, look at the competition. Brooklyn and Milwaukee both ranked 14th or worse in defensive rating and 11th or better in pace during the regular season. Conversely, Miami ranked fourth in defensive rating and 28th in pace. Dropping 29 on the Bucks is a vastly different exercise than dropping 29 on a rested Miami team. -- Fortenbaugh
Best bet: Jaylen Brown over 2.5 made 3s. The Heat like to force opponents to take 3-pointers, and I think that will work to the Celtics' advantage. Tatum will be the main focus of Miami's defense and Brown has hit over 2.5 3s in four of his past seven games. The Celtics scored 53 more 3-pointers than the Bucks during the series, the largest gap in a single series this postseason. -- Erin Dolan
Best bet: Over 204 points. In their two most recent meetings in January and March, these teams totaled 204 and 214 points. Both have strong defenses but enter this series with confidence on offense after facing tough competition. The Heat have averaged 112 PPG this postseason, scoring at least 115 points four times over the past six games. The Celtics just had a record-setting 3-point shooting performance in Game 7 against the Bucks, and their scorers are locked in at the moment. There will be games under 204 points in this series, but I don't believe it will be in Game 1. -- Snellings