NBA

NBA Betting Guide for Thursday 5/19/22: Can the Celtics Steal Game 2?

Costly third-quarter turnovers spoiled Boston's chance to win Game 1. What will Game 2 between the Celtics and Heat look like?

The Boston Celtics will add Marcus Smart back to the lineup tonight. Will that help them snatch homecourt advantage from Miami?

Betting on the NBA can be tricky, but you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit. You can also track spread bet percentages at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's game? All odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook, and all ratings are out of five stars.

Celtics (+3.5) - 1 Star

Honestly, this is a personal decision on how to back Boston tonight.

Both the C's spread and moneyline are one-star (i.e. one-unit) wagers, according to numberFire's model. It sees Boston winning outright 43.6% of the time compared to 42% implied odds, and it sees them covering the spread 56.1% of the time compared to 52.5% implied odds.

Miami has yet to lose at home, so I don't mind the one-basket buffer. Anecdotally, I love the Celtics to rebound and win this game outright no matter what. I've got them on an exact 4-2 series outcome ticket because they were just a better team than the Heat all year.

Boston had a +7.4 net rating this season compared to just +4.5 for the Heat. That's more telling than Miami's +10.1 net rating in the playoffs that hasn't had to roll through Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

While Al Horford is unlikely to play in this one, Marcus Smart -- kind of good at defense -- will come back to try and keep Jimmy Butler in check a bit more than Game 1. Robert Williams also filled in admirably for Horford to the tune of a +5 plus-minus -- the only positive mark amongst Boston starters.

It's been a tough postseason for spread bets, so the moneyline is also more than viable. I'll side with the model and with Boston on both.

Under 208.0 (-110) - 1 Star

This total is up four points from Game 1's projected total, but oddsmakers didn't wildly overreact to Game 1's 225 total points scored.

The Heat shot well in Game 1. Their 48.8% field-goal rate was their third-highest mark of the playoffs against the third-best defensive rating (106.5) this postseason. That doesn't seem sustainable.

Boston's 42 first-half paint points aren't sustainable, either. That was actually two points shy of the NBA's playoff record since at least 1997 when tracking began. Miami made a massive adjustment in the second half, and the C's scored just six paint points in the final two periods.

These are two of the top-three defensive ratings in the postseason this year, and the combined pace of these squads during the playoffs has been just 190.5 possessions per game.

More often than not in this series, these two teams should struggle to crack 200 total points -- especially if there was a potential blowout. That's why our model gives the under a 54.5% chance to hit.

Swaim-Game Parlay (+475)

Celtics +3.5
Jimmy Butler Under 26.5 Points
Jaylen Brown Over 6.5 Rebounds

Just one game a day means it's Same Game Parlay season now more than ever on FanDuel Sportsbook. If you bet 0.25 units per night on roughly my +500 parlay, we'll do pretty well if we can hit one per week.

Of the normal wagers, there's not much to be gained taking Boston's moneyline should heartbreak ensue on a one-basket margin. Therefore, Celtics +3.5 (-110) gets the nod into the parlay instead.

Like numberFire's model, I'd also side with Jimmy Butler Under 26.5 Points (-120) in this spot. Smart's return is a huge boost to the Celtics' perimeter defense, and the model is projecting him for just 21.2 points in this contest. Butler hasn't been needed to score every game; he's been held under 23 points in 5 of the 12 playoff games this season, and 4 of those instances came in Heat wins.

He also likely won't earn 18 free-throw attempts again -- nor convert those at a 94.4% clip.

As mentioned in my single-game DFS helper, Jaylen Brown bizarrely sees a significant boost in rebounding when Al Horford isn't playing. Brown saw an uptick of 1.04 boards per 36 minutes with Big Al off the floor this season. He pulled down 10 boards in Game 1, and our model has J.B. projected for 6.6 rebounds in Game 2.

Brown has also secured at least seven rebounds in six of his last nine games, so Jaylen Brown Over 6.5 Rebounds (+106) is another solid piece to include in tonight's lay.