NBA Playoffs: Greg Frank has the odds and picks Heat vs Celtics, game 2 — can Kemba Walker get some easier buckets?
Heat (+2.5) @ Celtics (209)
Pick: Celtics -2.5
Now that he’s this close, I’m sure Jimmy Butler is fully focused on capturing his first ring, but part of him has to be smiling from ear to ear. The perception surrounding Butler prior to heading to South Beach was that while talented, he caused locker room problems and stunted the growth of young players in Chicago, Minnesota and Philadelphia. The Bulls and Timberwolves have since plummeted after Butler’s departure and the Sixers’ attempt to improve without Butler failed miserably. Butler, meanwhile is three wins away from the NBA Finals and the Heat’s roster is full of young talent.
That, however, is the angle we want to exploit in tonight’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals for Miami against Boston. While Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro have all been key contributors for the Heat in the postseason, at some point they’re going to have to face some adversity, right? Frequently in the postseason, the Heat have been the team putting the pressure on their opponents, but eventually that script has to flip right? Boston’s young players were all a part of the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018 and responded well against Toronto in the last round after being pushed to a Game 7 despite leading 2-0 in the series. That’s what I’m not sure about with the Heat. Milwaukee never punched back when Miami got ahead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Is Boston really going to just roll over too? I wouldn’t think so and once it’s the Heat forced to respond, how do their young players perform?
The other really intriguing factor in this series is the coaching matchup. Eric Spoelstra got the better of Brad Stevens in Game 1 heavily featuring a box-and-one defense and trapping Kemba Walker. The veteran guard was held to 6-19 shooting and 1-9 from three-point range for the Celtics. I’m expecting Stevens to scheme up ways to get Walker some easier buckets in Game 2, Boston to play with the lead, and Miami’s role players to regress so I will lay the short number with the Celtics.