It’s back to South Florida for tonight’s Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, as Game 5 is set to take place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida with tip-off is set to get this crucial game underway at 8:30 PM Eastern Time.
After two consecutive wins on their home court back in Boston, the Celtics will no doubt have a renewed sense of confidence coming into tonight’s match-up, with their understanding that a victory this evening would push the series back to the TD Garden for a chance at closing out the series with Miami and moving on to the NBA Finals. Boston has managed to get its form back on its own floor, taking advantage of the smaller-sized Miami line-up, and getting a little lucky, at least in Game 4. Miami was presented with two opportunities to finish off the Celtics during the dying minutes of regulation and in overtime, however missed shots from Mario Chalmers and Dwayne Wade allowed Boston an entry back into the competition, with the series effectively reset to zero-zero. However, now playing in essentially a best-of-three series, the pressure will be fully on the Heat at home this evening, as they’ll be tasked with stopping the Celtics, who have mustered two straight wins, by finding a way to slow down the Heat scoring attack, and by avoiding playing an all-out offensive style of basketball that doesn’t suit them. Once again, Kevin Garnett has been, and will be the rock and physical play leader for the Celtics heading into tonight. With another double-double performance (17 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks) in Game 4, it will be critical for KG to be just as good this evening, especially with a growing probability that Miami will get their star forward Chris Bosh back in the lineup. If that happens, Brandon Bass’ role under the hoop will become exponentially more important for Boston. He certainly stepped up his game on Sunday night back home, contributing 11 points and 7 rebounds, and will have to be on point with a more efficient shooting night, and lockdown defense in the middle of the paint. Boston can’t afford to be a -10 on the battle under the bucket (outscored 48-38 in Game 4, in the paint), so these two are the key Boston players to watch for in Game 5 this evening.
For Miami, finding a way to get out and run with the ball again almost worked to deliver them a crucial victory on the road in Game 4, but clutch shooting near the end of regulation and overtime was again their downfall. In order to avoid having to face that situation once more, Miami must focus on taking Boston out of their defensive stand, and push the ball up and down the court with a fevered pace. Once again, you can’t expect much more out of LeBron James, who continues to be outstanding on both sides of the ball in this series. No doubt his fouling out of Game 4 (first time since 2008) hurt Miami’s chances near the end of the game more than Boston’s Paul Pierce being in the same situation did, but more importantly for this game the supporting cast has to be there for King James, Dwayne Wade, and Mario Chalmers. A good sign was the step-up play from Udonis Haslem, who had a monster game on the glass in Game 4, picking up 17 rebounds to go along with 12 points. Whether or not Chris Bosh is in the line-up tonight (he may be activated, no sign yet for certain), another big performance from Haslem tonight will be huge for the Heat to take advantage on home court. Once again though, one more Heat player that we’re just waiting to step up and show his veteran skills is Shane Battier, who despite logging near or over 40 minutes per game this series, has yet to come out with a solid game that helps take pressure off the Heat’s main scoring weapons. Battier needs to establish himself around the perimeter especially, and aid the Heat in refocusing the Boston defense towards the outside. Bringing the Celtics out to defend the perimeter will allow the quicker LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers to penetrate the lanes, something they were able to do quite easily in Games 1 and 2.
Betting Lines for Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat at Oddsmaker Sportsbook.
The Miami Heat playing back at home, with the possibility of seeing Chris Bosh in the lineup, has certainly given them a big boost on the betting lines for tonight’s game. The Heat are a massive favorite at -460 odds, despite the fact that only Game 1 featured the Heat winning outright in regulation time. While Boston has struggled away from home in this series, the momentum is firmly in their hands, and could give sports bettors an interesting play taking a small money wager on the Celtics at +370 odds. We’re reluctant to side with the Celtics, but after seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder win on the road at San Antonio to take control of the Western Conference Finals, you can bet that many more people will be influenced to take a chance on Boston this evening in Game 5.
In a less risky play that may be the best bet of the day for Boston backers, the spread is hugely leveraged towards the Miami Heat, with them getting the favorites at -8 points to cover. Conversely, the Boston Celtics get +8 points against the spread at -110 odds, which is our play for wagering on tonight’s game. Whether or not Chris Bosh plays tonight, Boston has honed in on their game plan against the Heat, and should produce a better defensive effort on the road tonight, knowing that with a win they will have a chance to close out at home. There is a possibility of a slump in form should Boston come out flat and look a bit tired after 2 overtime games in the last 3 contests, but something tells us the veteran Celtics will be up to dance toe-to-toe with Miami this evening.
Lastly for online sportsbook bets on tonight’s showdown, turn to the total points line, where the over/under is set at 180. The last three games have all managed to squeeze over the line here, and with Miami set to get out and push the pace, there could be another opportunity to bank on a bigger scoring effort in South Florida for both teams. Neither team has failed to eclipse 90 points since Game 1, so look out for a breakthrough of the over line once again.
Get those wagers placed at Oddsmaker Sportsbook, or any one of the top reviewed sports betting websites found here at CR, and prepare for what should be one of the best games yet in this 7-game Eastern Conference Finals series!