It took Jayson Tatum scoring the most points in Game 7 history to keep the Celtics from going home in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Their reward for pulling out the victory is Jimmy Butler and the Heat, who have been one of the biggest surprises of the postseason so far. That’s mostly due to their defense, which Tatum and company couldn’t overcome the last time these teams met in the East Finals in 2020. The Celtics’ shot at redemption begins tonight, and we put together the best player props and first basket scorer bets for the matchup.
If one of the wagers catches your eye, claim one of the current bonuses from the best sports betting apps on the market and place your bet before tip-off.
Celtics vs. Heat: First Basket Scorer + More Player Props
The Celtics announced they are starting Robert Williams III in Game 1 vs. the Heat, which significantly aids Boston’s chances of striking first.
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Williams III has a 91% opening tip win percentage, and Bam Adebayo has a 56% opening tip win percentage. Additionally, the Celtics strike first 46% of the time, compared to 40% of the time for the Heat.
Although Miami has performed lights-out defensively in the playoffs, only Butler is a great on-ball defender. Due to his workload on offense, he’ll start the game on Jaylen Brown, rather than Tatum, to help reserve energy for Miami’s offensive needs.
In the teams’ previous matchups this year, Max Strus has been the primary defender on Tatum. In four games against Miami this season, Tatum averaged 30 points. Given his success against Strus and the hot performance he is coming off of in Game 7, it’s likely Boston will go to him early to see if he can pick up where he left off against Philadelphia and get the team going right out of the gate.
The Heat won Game 1 of both rounds so far and have kept the pressure on their opponents. The Celtics just went seven games thanks, in part, to a Game 1 letdown. Look for Boston’s star to be aggressive right from the opening tip to avoid a repeat scenario from the last series that they may not be able to overcome against the Heat.
Best Player Prop Bets for Celtics vs. Heat Game 1 on Wednesday
The Heat don’t have the star power the Celtics do, but they play together on both ends of the floor and are well-coached. That keeps them competitive and shows up on the stat sheet in a variety of ways. As for the Celtics, the law firm of “Tatum and Brown” usually does all the heavy lifting.
Max Strus to Score Over 15 Points (+200 on FanDuel)
Strus’ role in the offense has been on a significant uptick since the conference semifinals. In the first round, he averaged six points on five shot attempts. In the second round, he averaged just below 15 points on 11 attempts, eight of which were three-point attempts. The Celtics have far better defenders to try and slow down Butler than what New York had available.
Given the improvement of the one-on-one defenders Butler will see, the Heat will need others to step up. Strus has been one of those guys so far, connecting on nearly three shots from deep per contest in the last round. Look for Strus’ attempts to rise even more as the Celtics throw the house at Butler.
Bam Adebayo to Lead All Scorers (+2000 on DraftKings)
It wouldn’t take a large bet to capitalize on odds like this, so a moderate wager on this line is worth considering. Multiple perimeter players for both teams missed multiple games in their head-to-head matchups this year. However, Adebayo played all four games and averaged 25 points on 57% shooting from the field. He led the Heat in scoring in three of the four games.
Adebayo’s mid-range jump shot in the pick-and-roll and his ability to get by the Celtics’ slower big men proved to be viable scoring options in their matchups. With both coaches keying in on the opposing team’s stars, Adebayo could have a sneaky-quiet performance that ends with him on top of the stat sheet in the scoring category.
Al Horford Under 7.5 Points (-103 on Caesars)
Al Horford was rendered obsolete in three games vs. Miami this season. He averaged six points per game in three contests. All or the bulk of his points in the games came from beyond the three-point line. In the playoffs, the Heat have elevated their three-point defense. In the regular season, their opponents shot 36% from deep. In the playoffs, the percentage has dropped to 33%.
Considering Horford’s scoring output in their matchups this season and Miami’s improved three-point defense (Horford’s primary scoring method), this wager seems pretty favorable.