Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Boston Celtics (12-4 SU, 6-10 ATS) vs. Miami Heat (9-6 SU, 7-8 ATS), 6:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, November 29, 2009, American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla. TV: NBA TV
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Celtics -3.5/Heat +3.5
Over/Under: 187.5

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Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference square off Sunday night as the Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics have won three games in a row, but it hasn’t been easy. After an 83-78 win over the Magic last week, the Celtics won by two points in overtime over the Knicks, by three points over the 76ers, and 116-103 over the Raptors on Friday.

In the win over the Raptors, the Celtics played perhaps their best game in a while. They shot 62 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range, and forced 25 turnovers. All five starters scored in double figures as well as Rasheed Wallace off the bench. Ray Allen led the way with 20 points, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins each had 18, and Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 11 assists. Kevin Garnett added 12 points, and Wallace had 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting, probably his best game since signing with the Celtics in the offseason.

For the season, Pierce leads the Celtics in scoring with 20 points per game. Allen is second with 15.5, Garnett is scoring 13.5, Perkins is at 11.1, and Rondo is putting up 10.8 points per game to go along with his 8.9 assists. Garnett leads the team in rebounds with 7.3 per game and Perkins is right behind him at 7.1.

The Celtics are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division, up by 5.5 games on the second place Raptors. The Heat have played well this season but are stuck in third place in the Southeast Division, three games behind two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Magic and Hawks.

The Heat started the season off strong but have hit a rough patch lately, losing four of their last six and five of their last eight. The only wins in their last eight games were three one-point victories, one of which was over the winless New Jersey Nets. After winning two in a row over the Hornets and Magic to end a three-game losing streak, Miami lost 94-84 on Friday to the Wizards.

In that loss, the Heat had four starters in double figures in scoring, but only 13 points from the rest of the team, including only seven points from their bench. Mario Chalmers led the way with 20 points. Dwyane Wade had an off-night with 18 points on 6-for-19 shooting. Jermaine O’Neal did a nice job down low with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Michael Beasley chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds. In the previous game against the Magic, Beasley had the game-winning follow-up dunk in the final seconds.

Wade leads the Heat in scoring with 27.1 points per game and in assists with 5.3 per game. He is only shooting 27.7 percent from beyond the arc, but other than that he is having a very good season. When Wade scores less than 20 points, the Heat are 0-2 this season. When he scores 23 or fewer points, they are 2-4 this season. O’Neal and Beasley have done a nice job giving Wade some help this season. O’Neal is averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, while is putting up 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Udonis Haslem is also contributing nicely off the bench with 10.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. The frontcourt players are playing well, but Wade needs more help in the backcourt from players like Chalmers, Quentin Richardson (currently injured) and Daequan Cook.

Miami is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games and 0-5 ATS in its last five home games. The total has gone over in five of Miami’s last six games. The Celtics are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games and 1-4 ATS in their last five road games. The total has gone over in four of Boston’s last six games.

Ryno’s Pick: Neither of these teams have been covering lately. Combined, the two teams are 2-13 lately against the spread. The Heat haven’t covered lately at home and the same goes for the Celtics on the road. Neither team is playing its best basketball right now. With that being said, the Heat are at home getting points. If Wade is able to score at least 25 points and he can get some solid contributions from players like O’Neal, Beasley and Chalmers, the Heat can easily win this game. The Celtics almost lost to the Knicks and Sixers in the last week, so if the Celtics play like they did against those teams, they will be able to get a victory in this one. Take the Heat +3.5.