Miami Heat at Boston Celtics (+1, 180.5)
THE STORY: The Boston Celtics attempt to even the best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 when they host the Miami Heat on Sunday. Boston ensured it wouldn’t be swept by posting a 101-91 victory on Friday in a contest that it led for the final 37 minutes. LeBron James has been sensational for Miami with three 30-point games in the series but teammate Dwyane Wade has been inconsistent. The Heat expect to again be without forward Chris Bosh.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE: Books opened the Celtics as 1-point home favorites but bettors have moved the spread past a pick'em and currently have Boston as a 1-point home underdog. The total opened at 180.5 points.
ABOUT THE HEAT: Bosh (lower abdominal strain) is making progress but not enough to return to action and is slated to miss his eighth consecutive playoff game. What has become clear during his absence is that the Heat badly miss Bosh as James has often been a one-man act with Wade struggling. “Probably the biggest confidence-builder for our basketball team was the mere fact that the last two years we simply couldn’t win without Chris,” Spoelstra said. “We couldn’t play effectively without Chris. He was our most important player.” Wade is averaging 21 points in the series but his points have come in bunches and he didn’t shoot a single free throw in 41-plus minutes in Game 3.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Point guard Rajon Rondo evolved back from scoring machine to stellar distributor in Boston’s Game 3 victory. Rondo, who had 44 points in Game 2, contributed 21 points and 10 assists and fueled Kevin Garnett’s strong game (24 points, 11 rebounds) with numerous pinpoint passes in the interior. Coach Doc Rivers repeatedly told Rondo to look for the mismatches. “He kept preaching to just throw it up to him,” Rondo said. “They went small, and no one can jump as high as Kevin. He stood up to the rim and he went up and got most of them.” Rondo is averaging 27 points and nine assists in the series.
- Home team is 13-5 ATS in the last 18 meetings.
- Under is 18-7-1 in the last 26 meetings in Boston.
- Favorite is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 meetings.
- Heat are 1-6 ATS in the last seven meetings.
- Heat are 1-9 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Boston.
1. James is averaging 33.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in the series and has eight 30-point outings in the postseason.
2. Boston forward Paul Pierce is averaging 18.7 points but shooting just 34.5 percent from the field.
3. Miami forward Mike Miller showed life off the bench in Game 3 with 11 points and three 3-pointers for his third double-digit outing of the postseason.