Heat vs Celtics Game 1 Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Don't Sleep on Bam

While Jimmy Butler gets all the headlines, Bam Adebayo's been a consistent stud for the Heat, and should wind up benefitting from the attention the Celtics pay to Jimmy in Game 1 tonight, as our NBA picks explain.

Jason Logan: Senior Betting Analyst at Covers
Jason Logan • Senior Betting Analyst
May 17, 2023 • 17:18 ET • 4 min read

Throw seeding in the trash when it comes to the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals.

The Miami Heat may have squeaked into the NBA Playoffs as the No. 8 seed, but they haven’t played like it after bouncing No. 1 Milwaukee and No. 5 New York to set up this showdown with the No. 2 Boston Celtics.

The Heat are hefty NBA odds underdogs in Game 1 of this series in Boston tonight, with the Celtics laying eight points.

I dive into the point spread and Over/Under total for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals and give my best NBA picks and predictions for Heat at Celtics on May 17.

Heat vs Celtics Game 1 best odds

Heat vs Celtics Game 1 picks and predictions

Jimmy Butler will draw the ire of the Celtics defense in this conference final, but big man Bam Adebayo has also been crucial for the Heat during the postseason. 

Adebayo averaged close to 19 points and 10 rebounds in the series win over the Knicks, shooting just shy of 53% from the field in those six games. He breached his scoring prop in each of the final three contests of that series, taking down totals of 16.5, 16.5, and 18.5 with outputs of 23, 18, and 23 points in that span.

Personally, I bet Over on Adebayo’s points in each of those last three showings and I’m back on the “Bam Bus” again in Game 1, with this prop being my first wager on the series when those markets opened a couple days ago.

Bam’s point total for Game 1 in Boston is between those previous numbers, opening at 17.5 points Over/Under but trending upward at some sportsbooks as of Wednesday morning, with 18.5 popping up around the industry.

The bulk of player projections for Adebayo sit north of 17.5 with some just short of a 20-point performance. My number isn’t that high, but I have him pegged for just over 19 points, which is still clear of the shorter number for this player prop.

Adebayo has had solid success against the Celtics’ dreaded defense this season, averaging 25 points over the Heat’s four meetings with Boston. He’s put in efforts of 19, 23, 28, and most recently a 30-point performance in a 98-95 victory over the C’s at home on January 24.

Adebayo has done damage as the ball screener in pick-and-roll sets, either rolling to the rim for the short lob, crashing the glass or step back for the mid-range jump shot — which has been the most improved part of his game this postseason.

A recent poll of Boston bloggers showed a consensus sentiment to allow Adebayo those mid-range looks and perhaps pick him as their poison, while focusing energy on slowing down the red-hot Butler.

The Celtics will likely go back to their smaller lineup with Derrick White starting and Robert Williams coming off the bench, leaving Adebayo with advantageous matchups against the slower Al Horford and the smaller Grant Williams.

My best bet: Bam Adebayo Over 17.5 points (-128 at Caesars)

Heat vs Celtics Game 1 same-game parlay

Bam Adebayo Over 17.5 Points -130

Derrick White 2+ Assists -160 

Derrick White 8+ Points -140

Adebayo has been a rock for the Heat during the playoffs and knows how to get his shots against the Celtics. Boston could pick its poison with Bam and focus on shutting down Butler, which is good for our Over.

Derrick White saw his minutes shrink with Boston going big to slow down Joel Embiid. But with Miami running smaller, expect White to be back in the starting lineup or at least logging more minutes. His props are way too low while his projections sit at 13 points and closer to four assists.

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

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Heat vs Celtics Game 1 spread and Over/Under analysis

Boston's coming off a grueling seven-game set with Philadelphia in the conference semis and has been anything but invincible inside TD Garden, with a 4-3 SU and ATS mark as a host this postseason.

Miami, on the other hand, is 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS in the role of visitor in the NBA Playoffs and boasts an 8-3 SU and ATS count overall in the tournament.

Following Boston’s romp of Philadelphia in Game 7 of the conference semifinals, oddsmakers installed the Celtics as 8-point favorites for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

While Boston hasn’t been sharp on its own floor this postseason, it did roar back from an early hole versus the 76ers and then blasted the visitor in the second half for a dominating 112-88 victory. The Celtics do own a net rating of + 9.1 inside TD Garden this postseason, but have a bad habit of falling flat on their face as big chalk from time to time.

Miami has been a good road bet in the playoffs with a 4-2 ATS mark as a visitor and a net rating of -0.7 away from South Beach. The Heat’s defense was the key to knocking off the Knicks in Round 2, owning a defensive rating of 108.1 against one of the better offensive teams in the NBA this season.

Boston and Miami clashed four times during the regular season, with the teams splitting wins and covers. However, the most recent matchup between these foes came back in late January, so there isn’t much current info to go off of when it comes to head-to-head comparisons.

The Heat’s postseason push has been fueled by the play of Butler, who’s been the best player on the floor in Miami’s two series so far. Buckets is averaging more than 31 points per game in the NBA Playoffs but did see his scoring dip to 24.6 versus New York, and he’s playing second fiddle to Celtics star Jayson Tatum.

Tatum is coming off a historic Game 7 performance, stacking 51 points and shooting close to 61% from the field to advance his team to the Eastern finals. He had some down games against Philadelphia but had success against the Heat’s defense in the regular season, averaging 31 points over four meetings.

The Game 1 total opened at 210 points and is sitting at 211 with some movement to the Over.

The Celtics and Heat boast twin 111.0 defensive ratings this postseason. Boston is 8-5 Over/Under including 3-4 O/U mark at home while Miami brings an 8-3 O/U record into Game 1, going 5-1 O/U in the role of visitor this postseason.

The 211-point total is on the higher end of Over/Under numbers for the Heat when measure against the closing totals for their last round matchup with New York, which had a high of 210 points O/U. The Celtics and Sixers started with totals around 215 points but those numbers slimmed later in the series, with closing O/U’s of 211 and 202.5 in the final two contests.

Boston isn’t shy about shooting a ton of triples, attempting almost 39 shots from beyond the arc per game in the playoffs, and has made 15.4 3-pointers on average. The Celtics are playing at a pace rating of 96.95 in the postseason, coming off a slowed-down tempo against the Sixers, with that seven-game set own a rating of 92.97.

Miami is also coming out of a methodical matchup with New York, dragging that tempo to a pace rating of 92.83. The Heat have also made their share of shots from distance but didn’t shoot the ball well from outside against the Knicks, settling for a 30.6% success rate from deep and averaging less than 12 triples over those six games.

These clubs ranked 23rd and 28th in pace rating in the post-break schedule to wrap the regular season and their four matchups finished with a collective 2-2 O/U record with an average rating of 97.34 in those contests.

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Heat vs Celtics betting trend to know

Miami has been an underdog of seven or more points only nine times all season, going 4-5 SU and 7-2 ATS in those games. Find more NBA betting trends for Heat vs. Celtics.

Heat vs Celtics Game 1 game info

Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET

Heat vs Celtics Game 1 key injuries

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