The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat continue the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 2 at 7 p.m. EST. The Celtics began the series as slight favorites and rode their first third quarter win since the Philadelphia series toward what looked like inevitable victory. Then Goran Dragic led a 14-point comeback charge capped by Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler.
According to the sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics expanded to 2.5 point favorites over the Heat in Game 2. The Heat (-155), however, assumed favorite position to win the series with a 1-0 lead over the Celtics (+135). Vegas likely responded to the Celtics announcing Gordon Hayward’s upgrade from out to doubtful on Wednesday afternoon.
- Celtics vs. Heat spread: Celtics -2.5
- Celtics vs. Heat over-under: 208.5 points
- Celtics vs. Heat money line: Celtics -140, Heat +120
The Celtics likely tinker with rotations tonight. Expect more Robert Williams III for his passing within the zone and to spread Daniel Theis fouls. Theis fouled out after logging 35 minutes and could in every game given his top-10 foul rate and Miami’s propensity for drawing them. Thank Jimmy Butler, who tagged Theis with his first three.
The question becomes if the Celtics add Enes Kanter to the mix. Kanter’s defense became an easy target of Goran Dragic for a flurry of mid-range makes on Kanter switches in their August meeting. He also sets powerful screens that could help further free a struggling Kemba Walker and counters Bam Adebayo on the boards. Kanter did not play in Game 1 and hasn’t seen action since the Philadelphia series. Watch for him in Game 2 with Brad Stevens tentative to use Williams III against Kelly Olynyk. Grant Williams posted a team-low -6 in the opener.
As for Kemba Walker, 14.7% from three in his past five games, the Celtics could try to loosen him up for more than his 1.7 catch-and-shoot threes per game this postseason. That part of his game never opened up in Boston during year one, but needing an escape valve the team should try to utilize Tatum’s expanded passing game to free him. Walker can’t get favorable switches right now due to Adebayo and the traps have come before he can unload the ball. His late game production remains pivotal and the Celtics need to get creative, even if it’s more rest time, to keep him active and engaged throughout.
The Celtics will win substantial minutes of each game in this series. It’s sustaining Theis, Walker and leads that’ll determine if they can win it.
Boston 110, Miami 108.