Miami Heat (24-24, 23-25 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (30-16, 19-26 ATS), The New Garden, Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 3rd, 8 PM Eastern, ESPN
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Heat +6.5/Celtics -6.5
Eastern Conference playoff perennials meet for a mid-week date when the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat Wednesday night at the new Garden up in Beantown.
As of early Wednesday morning this game had not yet been lined, mainly because of the questionable status of a couple of key players on both sides.
Miami just dropped a home-and-home series to the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday and Monday, and has lost four of its last five games. Going into Wednesday’ s play the Heat sit in fourth place in the Southeast Division, 8 games behind the first-place Orlando Magic. And Miami is tied with the Chicago Bulls for the seven spot in Eastern Conference standings.
The Celtics needed and got a win over lowly Washington Monday to break a three-game losing streak. And the Green Machine is just 78 this calendar year. Going into Wednesday’s game the Beantowners still lead the Atlantic Division by 5 1/2 games over the second-place Toronto Raptors. But while they also own the three seed in the East, they’ve dropped seven games back of the first-place Cleveland Cavaliers in the race for home-court advantage in the conference playoffs.
Boston is banged up, and showing its age. F Kevin Garnett is still hampered by that bad wheel, but he is playing. And G Paul Pierce sprained (or broke) a foot the other day, and he’s listed as doubtful for Wednesday night.
Also on the injury front, Miami C Jermaine O’Neal missed Monday’s game with a bad back, and he’s listed as questionable for Wednesday night. And F Michael Beasley has missed recent action with a hyperextended knee, although he returned to action Monday night.
On the season Miami ranks 16th in the league in FG shooting at 45.5%, 20th in 3-point shooting at 34% and 18th in free-throw shooting at 75%. At the other end of the court the Heat rank ninth in FG defense at 45%, eighth in scoring defense at 96 PPG and 15th in rebounding at +.3 per game.
The Celtics rank third in the league in FG shooting at 48.5%, 15th from long range at 35%, 19th from the charity stripe at 75%, first in scoring defense at 94 PPG, sixth in FG defense at 44% but just 24th in rebounding at -.9 per game.
Boston has already beaten the Heat twice this season, by scores of 92-85 in Miami in November and 112-106 in overtime a month ago, also in South Florida. The Celtics shot 53% from the floor over those two games, and held Miami to just 41% shooting. And they covered the pointspread both times, as one- and four-point favorites.
And while that first Boston victory over the Heat stayed under its posted total of 187 rather easily, the second Celtics win went over its total of 186 before the game went to overtime.
Miami is 11-12 straight up and 1211 ATS on the road this season, while Boston is 13-8 SU but just 6-14 vs. the numbers at the new Garden.
It’s no rest for the weary, as the Heat heads to Cleveland to play the Cavs Thursday night.
The totals are 21-27 in Heat games this season, which are averaging 193 points, and 22-23 in Celtics games, which are also averaging 193 points.
Sagarin’s PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rates Boston at +4.6 over Miami. Adding on Sagarin’s updated NBA home-court advantage figure of 3.6, and the Celtics are eight-point favorites over the Heat for Wednesday’s game.
Z-Man’s Pick: I like the UNDER 182.5.