NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: How to bet on a coin-flip series like Heat vs. Celtics

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) dribbles around Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

I’ve had it with trying to figure this stupid series out. Miami has won THREE QUARTERS across four games and the series is tied 2-2. In the two games in Boston, each team took turns looking like their G-League affiliate.

I called Marcus Smart the most important Celtic, and then Boston beat the brakes off the Heat in Game 4 with Smart on the injured list.

Is Tyler Herro really this important to Miami? What’s happened to Bam Adebayo? How did the Celtics blow out the East’s top seed while shooting 23.5 per cent from deep? Is Jimmy Butler even good? Can Jaylen Brown even dribble the ball more than twice without turning the ball over?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “I have no idea.” So instead of analyzing tonight’s game, I’m just going to flip a coin, and then produce some analysis to justify that coin flip.

Because that’s how predictable this series has been.

Overall record against the spread: 27-26-1

Boston Celtics (-1.5, -125) at Miami Heat (+1.5, +105) – 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT on Sportsnet One

Okay, not literally. I’m not actually flipping a coin, because otherwise what is Sportsnet paying me for? Plus, we have every gambler’s favourite point of analysis to dive into for this pivotal Game 5: injuries! Smart and Robert Williams are both listed as questionable.

Obviously the DPOY missed Game 4, while Time Lord played, but Williams came up limping several times before Boston coach Ime Udoka finally pulled him for good once it became clear the game was in hand.

Whether or not Williams plays has had a huge impact on Jimmy Butler’s offensive output, as he combines with Al Horford to present too much size, length and tenacity at the rack. Where this game gets truly fascinating is on the Miami injury list.

As of writing, Herro, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent (who has been Miami’s third-best player this series, in my opinion), and P.J. Tucker are all listed as questionable. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three starters, the Sixth Man of the Year, and literally all of Miami’s secondary playmaking.

Now, some of those guys will play, and Miami is famously cagey about injuries. I expect Lowry to play, since he looked ok in Game 4. But ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne reported that Herro’s groin injury is one that would keep him out up to two weeks if this weren’t the playoffs.

Which means if he does play, he’ll be a liability on defence. And if he doesn’t play…well we saw what Miami looks like without Herro to buoy its bench unit. I like Boston (-1.5). I also like the OVER 203.5 on the game score, because it feels like the books are overreacting to Miami’s dogwater performance in Game 4. The other three games in the series have comfortably cleared that mark, as did two of the three regular season games they played.

If Williams doesn’t play, roll with Jimmy Butler OVER 24.5 points, and Al Horford OVER 10.5 points. Assuming he plays, I also like P.J. Tucker OVER 0.5 threes made.

The Sicko Same Game Parlay of The Night pays off at +1400

· Boston Celtics -1.5
· OVER 203.5 combined game score
· P.J. Tucker OVER 0.5 threes made
· Al Horford OVER 10.5 points
· Jimmy Butler OVER 24.5 points

As always, play safe and don’t chase.


Editor's Note: Gambling problems aren't only about losing money. They occur on a continuum, and can affect a person's whole life. To learn more about developing a healthy relationship to gambling, and to find resources for support, click here.


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