ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data, featuring ESPN’s proprietary Basketball Power Index (BPI) to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for Thursday are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
Oddsmakers appear bullish on the Boston Celtics‘ prospects at home this evening. Despite being down 3-1 to the Miami Heat, the Celtics are favored by at least eight points tonight on most books.
One key angle baked into this sizable spread is the fact Boston claimed the best first-half net rating in the NBA this season (+9.2). This early dominance has also surfaced in the playoffs, with the Celtics nearing a 13-point first-half net rating at home through three series. We should know pretty early on if Boston is ready to extend this series to six games.
From a fantasy lens, my projections like Grant Williams and his recent surge in minutes and 3-point volume. There is also more scoring responsibility placed on Derrick White and Jaylen Brown in the wake of Malcolm Brogdon‘s apparent injury to his shooting hand. For Miami, Jimmy Butler remains the chalk play, but for good reason given he’s topped a 30% usage rate in all but one game this series.
— Jim McCormick
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics
Game 5: 8:30 p.m. ET, Heat lead series 3-1
Records (Against the Spread)
Heat: 44-38 (30-49-3)
Celtics: 57-25 (45-36-1)
Line: Celtics (-8.5) Total: 215.5
BPI Projection: Celtics by 9.4
Money Line: Heat (+250), Celtics (-320)
Heat: Gabe Vincent, (GTD – Ankle); Tyler Herro, (OUT – Hand); Victor Oladipo, (OUT – Knee)
Celtics: Malcolm Brogdon, (GTD – Forearm); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play
Best bet: Heat (+8.5) Did you know that 64 of Miami’s 99 games played this season (64.7%) were decided by 8 or fewer points? That ranks first in the NBA. Translation: This team is very good at avoiding blowout losses. Throw in some projected shooting regression after Boston shot 40 percent from deep in Game 4 while Miami shot a paltry 25% from the same range and you have a handsome wager on the underdog. — Joe Fortenbaugh
Best bet: Heat (+8.5). The Heat have been impressive in the series, winning three out of four games, including two wins on the Celtics’ home court. This demonstrates their ability to not only compete but also defeat the Boston in their own arena. Facing elimination, the Celtics will be highly motivated in Game 5. After a dominating second half performance by Boston in Game 4, I anticipate a closely contested matchup between these teams. It’s worth noting that the Heat have a strong track record against the Celtics, covering the spread in five out of their past six games. — Eric Moody
Best bet: Jaylen Brown over 22.5 points. Are Brown’s struggle in this series are in the past following Boston’s Game 4 win? While a comeback from a three-game deficit is rare, the Celtics will fight harder at home. Brown has averaged 16.7 PPG and 35.5 MPG this series but averaged 30.3 PPG against the Heat in the regular season. I’m expecting big performance from Brown on Thursday night. — Moody
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