The Miami Heat has been a different team in the playoffs. That much is well-known to BetOnline patrons. And they have done it largely without Tyler Herro, who is, at the very least, their third best scoring option. But what they did to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals was an unpleasant shocker to Beantown fans.
The Celtics looked like they were defeated as soon as Miami pulled out to a sizable lead. And, well, basically they quit. The final of 128-102 perhaps didn't even properly reflect what happened.
And now the Celts are embarrassed. Will that result in an intense effort as they face elimination?
Well, it better. Or they are going to be watching the finals from home.
Of course, everybody knows that Jimmy Butler is the guy who always rises to the occasion in the postseason. And there is a tendency to look at him as a guy who carries almost all the burden with him. But there are a lot of supporting actors in this production. And they were prominently on display a couple of nights ago in the blowout.
And we have to be honest with you; Joe Mazzulla, the rookie coach for the Celtics, who took over after Imo Udoka was let go, has looked a bit overwhelmed in this series, and Erik Spoelstra, who's got a couple of NBA championships under his belt, is pretty clever.
How clever? We'll discuss it.
In the NBA betting odds that have been placed on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Heat are a slight favorite:
Miami Heat -1.5
Boston Celtics +1.5
Over 217 Points -107
Under 217 Points -113
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The Miami franchise is renowned for the way it can develop players who are already on the roster. And they practice what they preach too; just look at all the guys they have used who were never drafted in the first place. I'm not sure, and maybe I missed them saying something about it on the telecast, but Game 3 may have been the only occasion in recent memory when the top three scorers for a team in a conference finals game were undrafted.
Butler had 16 for the Heat in Game 3, but a bigger output than that wasn't needed. They got 29 from Gabe Vincent, who is now the starting point guard. along with 22 from Duncan Robinson and 18 from Caleb Martin. All these guy have been key contributors for Spoelstra.
Miami has also spoiled what Boston has tried to funnel to its best player. Jayson Tatum was among the top five scorers in the league and made the All-NBA first team. But he's been no factor at all in crunch time; Tatum hasn't had one fourth-quarter field goal in this series. Inasmuch as the first two games were competitive affairs, that is astounding.
Teams who go down 3-0 in a series know, deep down, that they aren't going to come back and win four in a row, because it hasn't happened in the NBA in 149 cases. Then again, they sometimes come out desperate, and therefore, may go balls-out. That could happen here at the beginning. But do the Celtics believe in themselves, in a way that could last four quarters?
Miami saw what happened with Denver sweeping the Lakers, and they don't want to leave the Nuggets with a lot of extra rest time. That means some intensity on their home floor at the Kaseya Center. Doesn't this come off with a short number for a home team that has exhibited so much more in the fundamentals, strategy and sheer effort? It's probably worth the play to take the Heat.
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