NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 5/19

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

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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 Thursday, May 19

*Lines are opening numbers

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat (-4, 205.5)

Game 2: Heat lead 1-0

As crazy as it sounds, the Boston Celtics should come into this game with some confidence after the Game 1 loss in which it was outscored by 25 points in the third quarter. The obvious place to start is that Boston won three of the four quarters and led by 8 points at halftime after opening a 13-point lead at one point in the first half. However, their dominant defense looked nothing of the sort on Tuesday. Miami averaged 1.216 points per possession, 1.122 in half-court settings and Jimmy Butler dropped 41 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the floor and 18 trips to the free throw line. Boston’s defensive play has to be better and it should be with Marcus Smart expected to return from injury.

Smart being back has a ripple effect for the Celtics, sending Derrick White back to the bench and cutting into the minutes of Payton Pritchard. Pritchard was solid in hiss 30 minutes in Game 1, but he is a below average defender who was exploited in his time on the floor. Smart should be able to win a few more possessions against Butler as well on the defensive end of the floor. Bettors should expect a much more consistent effort from the road team here tonight with Smart back in action.

Having said that, the Celtics need to figure out how to crack this incredible Heat interior defense. Miami held Boston to 19-of-32 shooting at the rim and a combined 24-of-42 inside 14 feet. The Heat were incredible on their close-outs as well, contesting nearly every 3-point attempt and limiting the Celtics to 11-of-34 from deep. It led to Boston averaging just 1.092 points per possession in non-garbage time minutes. There were signs of life for the Celtics’ offense though. They put up 1.265 points per possession in the first half, and Robert Williams showed the ability to exploit Bam Adebayo’s willingness to help on drives to the basket, scoring 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Should Tatum maintain his aggressiveness and ability to go after mismatches presented by Miami’s switching style on defense those opportunities should be there for Boston’s offense to put forward four full quarters.

When Smart and Al Horford were ruled out on Tuesday this number went from Miami -2 to -5 at most shops. With Smart back in action, we see this line down to 3.5 at most shops as of this morning. This line seems to be telling us that Horford is worth 1.5 points to the line, as he is the only absence for the Celtics, and that seems somewhat strong. I came into this series with the belief that Boston was the better team, and I am going to stick to that belief once more. Smart coming back helps this team immensely on defense, and the team should put forth a much better effort after what happened on Tuesday. The total is up to 208.5 from the close of 203.5 of Game 1 and I completely agree with that adjustment. These are two good defensive teams, but that initial number was the total for a Game 7 type setting. These two teams have the ability to score, and this number is much more accurate.

Best Bet Summary

Celtics (+ 3.5)

Season Record: 97-78-2

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