After dropping the first two games of their Eastern Conference finals series at home, the Boston Celtics might normally feel a little hopeless; a little defeated. Well, there's no doubt that they were a beaten team, but as it turns out, taking their act on the road hasn't been such a fruitless pursuit. In fact, quite the contrary.
The fact is, the Celtics are one of the best teams in the NBA as the visitor, and this has been explored on network broadcasts throughout the postseason. It's worth exploring.
Boston, as we speak, is tied for the NBA's best road record at 29-18. That's 61.7%. And they aren't all that bad against the pointspread either. The Sacramento Kings were 29-15 ATS when traveling, and that was the league's best in that category. The Celtics are 26-21 against the nuimber as the road team.
As the road favorite, however, they are a more pesdestrian 20-20 ATS, and perhaps that is a concern here, as the oddsmakers at BetOnline have them laying points against the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their series:
Boston Celtics -4.5
Miami Heat +4.5
Over 214 Points -110
Under 214 Points -110
It is shocking to some that Miami, which came into the playoffs as the eighth seed, and had to qualify on their second try in the Play-In Tournament. Yet here they are, having sent Milwaukee and New York to the bench.
What you detect throughout these first two games is that the Heat absolutely refuses to be beaten in the hustle part of the game, They've had more offensive rebounds then the Celts (18-15). And they have been able to get out there and defend the perimeter better. Miami has shot 44% from the arc, while Boston has hit only a sliver over 31%. The combination of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum has gone 7-for-26 from downtown.
Bam Adebayo has done a phenomenal job in the middle for the Heat, with 42 points, 25 rebounds and 14 assists. He's been noisier than Al Horford, and he takes advantage of the fact that the Celtics don't leave their athletic big man, Robert Williams, out there for very long.
Of course, there's Jimmy Butler, who's not onluy had 62 points in these two games but also 13 assists and nine steals. And they'll remember the moment when Grant Williams started to troll him, turning a likely Celtic win into another dramatic Heat comeback.
But the guy who might typify what Miami is about this season - and for the past couple of seasons, in fact - is Caleb Martin. The former University of Nevada star went undrafted, like so many in Erik Spoelstra's rotation. And he came off the bench to register a career-high 25 points in the Game 2 win.
Spoelstra, by the way, has outcoached his opposite number, Joe Mazzulla, who has looked dumbfounded at times. One of the things that has really stood out is the way Boston (a) didn't adjust and start doubling up on Butler, and (b) has not facilitated making Tatum more of a factor in the fourth quarter, where he has taken only four shots in two games while facing a plethora of defensive looks.
And sop you're telling me that you would lay points with Boston? Well, best of luck to you. Even with that road record, I wouldn't do it. So I'm on Miami to make it 3-0. Or to at least keep it close. Take the points.
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