Celtics vs Heat Game 3 Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Brown's Services Needed in South Beach

The Boston Celtics are down 2-0 thanks in some part to the disappearing act of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Our NBA betting picks are honing in on Brown, breaking down why a bounceback performance should be coming in Game 3.

Jason Logan: Senior Betting Analyst at Covers
Jason Logan • Senior Betting Analyst
May 21, 2023 • 17:52 ET • 4 min read

Miami Vice isn’t just the name of an 80s cop show with a killer soundtrack and sockless shoes that proved pastels can be macho.

It also describes the pressure mounting on the Boston Celtics as they head to South Beach down 2-0 in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.

The Miami Heat stole the first two games of the series in Boston and are 3.5-point home underdogs for Sunday’s Game 3, trying to tighten that Miami Vice on a reeling Celtics side.

I break down the point spread and Over/Under total for Game 3 in the East finals and give my best NBA betting picks for Celtics at Heat on May 21. Be sure to also check out Shawn Wronka's three favorite Game 3 player props!

Celtics vs Heat Game 3 best odds

Celtics vs Heat Game 3 picks and predictions

Pissed-off people in New England can’t put all the blame for the Boston Celtics' 0-2 hole on Jayson Tatum’s fourth-quarter vanishing acts. Jaylen Brown’s ice-cold Game 2 effort also has to share that shame.

Brown finished 7-for-23 from the floor in Game 2, including a dismal 1-for-7 from beyond the arc. His 16 points weren’t enough to hold off the Miami Heat and he too went MIA in the final stanza, with just three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the fourth quarter.

That poor performance, coupled with a quieter 22-point showing in the series opener has left Brown to play Under his points prop in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In fact, Brown has exceeded the oddsmakers’ expectations in the box score only once in the past nine playoff games, averaging 22 points an outing in that span. That has his point prop for Game 3 sitting at 23.5 Over/Under on Sunday morning.

Boston needs Brown to step it up with the series swinging to South Beach. His road scoring average in the playoffs is right on this number at 23.5 points per game as a visitor but his role in the offense has taken a tick upwards compared to the conference semis against the 76ers.

Brown averaged only 15.6 shots per game in that seven-game set but has launched totals of 21 and 23 field goal attempts in the first two games vs. Miami. The volume as well as the floor time is there. Brown just has to make some shots, namely from beyond the arc where he’s a collective 2-for-13 in the series.

Brown’s Game 3 projections have a wider range, but all of the mainstream models have him forecasted for at least 23.5 points with a ceiling of 26.5, should those 3-pointers start to fall. My number is a bit more modest at 24.6 points and I have more confidence in the higher side of those projections, as Brown shot better on the road all season — especially from beyond the arc (38.1%  on the road vs. 29.5% at home).

Miami’s defense will continue to go after Tatum, with Jimmy Butler spending the bulk of his matchup minutes on the Celtics star, and Brown has shown a propensity to snap back from bad games this season. Most recently, he scored only 17 points in Game 6 with Philadelphia and countered with 25 in Game 7. He rebounded from a 15-point flop in Game 3 against Atlanta with a 31-point outpouring in Game 4. 

My best bet: Jaylen Brown Over 23.5 points (-115)

Celtics vs Heat Game 3 same-game parlay

Jaylen Brown Over 23.5 points (-115)

Jaylen Brown Over 5.5 rebounds (-130)

Al Horford Over 6.5 points (-128)

Brown has followed the Ted Lasso goldfish philosophy, bouncing back from poor performances with strong scoring efforts. His ceiling sits at 26.5 points for Game 3 and my number of 24.6 is still above his points prop. I also like Brown to be active on the glass, as I’m calling for 6.6 rebounds today. Celtics veteran Al Horford has been cold from outside as well in this series and his point prop total is shrinking, but my projection calls for closer to eight points with the higher end of the Game 3 forecasts at nine points for Horford. 

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Celtics vs Heat Game 3 spread and Over/Under analysis

After winning outright as underdogs of +8.5 and +10 in Boston, the Heat opened as 3-point underdogs for Game 3 in South Beach. That spread has ticked up half a point at most books, with Miami +3.5 as the industry consensus spread on Sunday morning. There are lows of Boston -3 and highs of Heat +4 available if you shop around.

Miami has been the best bet in the NBA Playoffs, bringing a stellar 10-3 SU and ATS record into Game 3, including a perfect 5-0 SU home mark with a 4-1 ATS count in those outings inside Kaseya Center. The Heat carry a postseason net rating of +11.4 with them into Game 3 — the third-highest mark in the NBA Playoffs.

The Celtics are no slouches on the road, however. Boston is a solid 4-2 SU and ATS as a visitor with a postseason-high +4.9 net rating on the road. That road prowess and the desperation factor have books setting a rare spread for Game 3. This is just the eighth time the Heat have been home dogs all season, going 4-3 SU and 5-2 ATS in those previous seven contests.

If Boston is going to do the same as Miami — and steal a road game — it needs to show up in the final 24 minutes. The Celtics were outscored 123-105 in the second half to open this series, thanks in large part to the two-way efforts of Jimmy Butler.

Butler is a plague for Boston, averaging 31 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists in the two stops in Beantown but also putting those vice grips on Tatum in crunch time. The Heat’s switch-heavy defense is anchored in Butler’s ability to match up with opponents’ top talents and so far, Tatum is averaging only 5.5 fourth-quarter points and has yet to make a single field goal in the final frame of the Eastern Conference Finals.

As for the Game 3 Over/Under total, it hit the board at 214 points and has since slimmed to 213.5 at some shops, as of Sunday morning.

This number sits between the two closing totals for Game 1 (212) and Game 2 (214.5) with both contests in Boston going Over the number, thanks in large part to Miami’s sound shooting in the series. The Heat have been just that — hot — from the field, connecting on almost 50% of their shots, including going 25-for-57 from distance (44%).

Boston has been just as sharp from the floor, with a 49.4% clip but hasn’t been able to cash in like Miami from the perimeter, with the Celtics making just 20 of their 64 total 3-point attempts through two games (31%). Perhaps the change in venue can snap the C’s out of that funk, as they’ve shot better than 40% from long range on the road in the playoffs so far.

The first two games of the East finals boasted a pace rating of 96.5, which is more fitting to the style of the Heat, who finished the regular season with a 96.76 pace rating compared to the Celtics’ tempo of 99.15.

Miami has been a hot Over bet during the NBA Playoffs, topping the total in four of its last five going back to the conference semifinals with New York and boasting a 10-3 Over/Under count for the entire postseason, including a 3-2 O/U mark at home. Boston enters Game 3 at 10-5 O/U in the playoffs, with a 5-1 O/U record on the road.

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Celtics vs Heat betting trend to know

The Over is 21-7 in Heat’s last 28 games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Celtics vs. Heat.

Celtics vs Heat Game 3 game info

Location: Kaseya Center, Miami, FL
Date: Sunday, May 21, 2023
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET

Celtics vs Heat Game 3 key injuries

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