And then there were three.
With the Golden State Warriors’ emphatic 120-110 victory Thursday night, all eyes turn to the East, as the Heat and Celtics square off for the right to challenge Stephen Curry and Co.
The Eastern Conference Finals have been, as I predicted in my series preview, a slobberknocker. Both teams’ benches are looking more like infirmaries. Jayson Tatum is dinged-up, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams have missed games and nearly half of Miami’s roster is either questionable or clearly playing hurt. It’s been a war of attrition, one that Miami is losing.
Although Boston has had its share of pain, Miami simply looks like a different team than the one that finished atop the East at the end of the regular season. But this Heat squad is built on will power and effort.
Can they muster up one final burst of energy Friday night?
Overall record against the spread: 29-26-1
When I picked the Celtics to win this series, I’ll admit it wasn’t because I thought Miami would come apart at the seams with health issues. Coming into a must-win Game 6, the Heat have upgraded Tyler Herro to questionable, where he’ll join Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and P.J. Tucker, all of whom played in Game 5.
But let’s focus on Herro. Since he went down with a groin injury, Miami has averaged just 81 points per game, a number that would have been good enough for sixth … in Canada West men’s college basketball.
The Heat’s offence has been terrible without the Sixth Man of the Year. Defence is great, but at some point you have to put the ball in the hoop. It’s been about more than Herro, with Jimmy Butler struggling from the floor and Bam Adebayo struggling to figure out how to be effective against a Celtics interior defence that seems perfectly built to deal with his unique strengths.
The Celtics still feel like they haven’t played their best ball yet in this series, and while I have them winning this game outright, the Heat have too much toughness and veteran savvy to not at least keep this one close. I like Miami (+8.5) to cover in a loss.
Let’s also not get too carried away with how atrocious the offence in this series has been, the over/under for the game is 200.5 at some books as of writing, a very low number. I like the OVER there. Honestly, I like the over up to about 202, if it moves. I also love Marcus Smart OVER 1.5 blocks and steals (+110), a bet we’ve hit seven times in the postseason already.
I also kind of like Al Horford OVER 12.5 rebounds and assists combined, as Big Al has been on some kind of Benjamin Button juice all series. And even though the odds aren’t particularly juicy (-240), I’m throwing P.J. Tucker OVER 0.5 threes made into my parlays Friday night. All he does is hustle and hit corner triples, and I still can’t believe this number is so low. He’s hit at least one in 12 of his 16 games this postseason.
The Sicko Same Game Parlay of The Night pays off at +1800
· Miami Heat +8.5
· OVER 200.5
· P.J. Tucker OVER 0.5 threes made
· Al Horford OVER 12.5 rebounds and assists
· Marcus Smart OVER 1.5 steals and blocks
As always, play safe and don’t chase.