NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Saturday 5/21

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 


Welcome to the daily NBA betting market report, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, or check out The Edge daily at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.

All game lines via VSiN NBA Odds page.

Market Report for Saturday, May 21st

*Lines are opening numbers

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics (-6, 208.5)

Game 3: Series tied 1-1

It is no coincidence that Marcus Smart and Al Horford returned to action and Boston would proceed to roll over Miami on the road. The Celtics are the best team left in the postseason right now, and the gap between them and the “most disrespected top seed in NBA history” was apparent in that game on Thursday night. The Heat have won just one of the eight quarters played in this series, and Ime Udoka’s adjustment early in Game 2 to go small worked wonders for the Celtics. Boston switched nearly everything on defense, putting body after body on Jimmy Butler and limiting him to just 29 points and eight trips to the free throw line. Miami averaged just 1.051 points per possession as a result, turned it over on 17.7% of their offensive possessions and posted an 85.2 offensive rating in halfcourt settings. That defense is going nowhere with everyone still available, and it is only going to get better with Derrick White back today after missing Game 2 to be home for the birth of his son.

The defensive intensity should not come as a surprise anymore when watching Boston, as this has been the best defense in the NBA since the beginning of January. What might have surprised some is the offensive explosion that occurred in Game 2 but this is what this team has been in the postseason. The Celtics trail only the Mavericks in 3-point attempt frequency this postseason, taking 42.1% of their attempts from beyond the arc. They are also hitting 38.2% of those attempts, burning teams which have dared them to shoot. Miami is a team which prioritizes defending the rim and as a result some teams will be forced to take perimeter shots. The difference in this series is that the Celtics can make them pay for that gameplan. Boston took 28 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts in Game 2 and hit 53.6% of those attempts. The Heat’s luck on wide-open attempts allowed ran out as well, and the Celtics hit 10-of-14 wide-open 3-pointers on Thursday night. These figures are not aberrations either. Boston is shooting 40.3% on wide-open attempts in the postseason according to the NBA tracking data and 38.3% on all catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. Should Miami continue to allow drive-and-kick opportunities then they will continue to get burned from the perimeter.

There are quite a few people who would look at this number today and believe it to be an overreaction to the blowout victory of Game 2 but that is not the case. At this point of the postseason home court has been inflated to be worth 4.5 points if you calculate it by median result, and if you look at it via net rating then it is worth 5.2 points. If that is the case, then a 6.5 point spread would tell us that Boston is only about 2 points better on a neutral. They are better than that. I believe in this Celtics team, and they continue to deliver as they are now 9-4 ATS in this postseason. This is the best team in the NBA and I am going to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to that.

Play: Celtics (-6)

Best Bet Summary

Celtics (-6)

Season Record: 98-79-2

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