Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals tips off Thursday at TD Garden. After an attempt to sweep the Celtics failed on Tuesday night, the Miami Heat have another chance to punch their ticket into the NBA Finals.
The pendulum of public perception took a wild swing after the Celtics’ 116-99 win in Game 4, as Miami’s odds to win the series dropped to -275. The idea is that the Celtics, who enjoy a significant talent edge on paper, could be the type of team to do what the previous 150 teams in NBA history failed to do, come back from a 3-0 hole to win the series.
I am not in that camp, as I will be siding with history and the Heat tonight. The Celtics have been brutal at home throughout the postseason (4-5 straight up), and got owned by Miami in both games at TD Garden. But, taking the layup with the Heat isn’t enough. I am going to squeeze out a couple plays in the prop market where I see some solid edges. Let’s start with Playoff Jimmy.
Miami let the Celtics off the hook by allowing them to find their stroke from beyond the arc. After shooting 29% in the Games 1-3, Boston shot 40% and buried 18 3-pointers in Game 4’s win.
Butler didn’t budge in the postgame news conference as he spoke of his intentions to close out the series in Boston. Butler walks the walk, leads by example and sets the tone for the entire team. While some point to the Heat coming back down to earth from long range, Butler knows it starts with defensive effort. After having only one steal and falling under this prop in Game 4, Butler returns to Boston were he had a total of nine steals in Games 1 and 2.
He has had at least two steals in seven of his last 10 games, and his defensive intensity should have him cashing this bet pretty early in the game.
Robert Williams over 0.5 turnovers (-145)
Miami forced Boston to turn it over only 10 times in Game 4, a 33% dip from the 15 turnovers in each of the first three games. Despite the Celtics doing a better job of taking care of the ball, Robert Williams contributed with one of his own. It marked the sixth straight game Williams has turned it over.
The “Time Lord” has only been able to keep himself turnover-free in 15% of games against the Heat this season. In a game where I’m convinced Miami cranks up the defensive effort, I will pay the juice to bet against the Celtics center.
Jaylen Brown Under 32.5 points, rebounds and assists (-110)
Brown opened the series with a monster game. His 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists in Game 1’s loss showcased how Brown can impact the game in multiple ways. Since then, he hasn’t come close to being the player the Celtics need him to be.
Brown posted between 20-25 combined points, rebounds, and assists in Games 2-4, and his comments after Tuesday night’s win point to him trying to taper down his aggression in an effort to limit turnovers. That makes him the perfect candidate to target falling under this prop for the fourth straight game.
Brown was still a big part of the Celtics’ win, but he was very candid on how Miami’s zone defense has forced the ball out of his hands. The Celtics’ star wing is shooting 3-of-25 (12%) from 3-point range in the series and seems content with trusting his teammates to make the plays while he works through his shooting slump. Brown only has a 30% hit rate on this total in his last 10 games. In a game where I expect the Heat to finish them off, Brown is a Game 5 fade for me.