- The Eastern Conference Finals begin Tuesday night with the No. 3 seed Boston Celtics taking on the No. 5 seed Miami Heat.
- The Celtics open the series as Game 1 favorites, getting -1.5 spread and -125 moneyline to win.
- This will be the first playoff meeting between the storied franchises since 2012, where the LeBron James-led Heat defeated the Celtics en route to their second championship in a row.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Eastern Conference finals are finally set, and the basketball world at large is preparing for a heavyweight battle between two of the most prominent teams in the league.
The No. 3 seed Boston Celtics and No. 5 seed Miami Heat square off for Game 1 of their series Tuesday night, with both teams coming into the series with tons of momentum.
This will mark the first time in 51 years that neither the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds will make the Eastern Conference Finals, but few can deny that these are not the best teams remaining on this side of the bracket.
Betting odds and lines are now available for the game, with Boston getting the slight advantage across most major legal sports betting apps.
Eastern Conference Finals – Game 1 – 6:30 p.m. EST
- Miami Heat +105
- Boston Celtics -125
- Spread: BOS -1.5
- Over/Under: 209.0
The Celtics come into this matchup high off of a Game 7 victory over the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
During Game 7, the Heat were enjoying a nice break from the action after disposing of the top seed Milwaukee Bucks in just five games.
While some might be surprised to see these two teams as the last remaining squads of the East, fans of either club know that both the Celtics and Heat belong on this stage.
The Celtics were the only team in the East to rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency in the regular season, while the Heat had the best record in the regular season over the top six teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Some might say that Miami actually had the easier route to the ECF despite matching up with the Bucks, who were the betting favorites to make it to the Finals.
Miami swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round, and then completely dominated Milwaukee out of the gate, going up 3-0 and finishing off the MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in just five games.
Meanwhile, the Celtics come into this one a bit more battled tested. While they did sweep the Ben Simmons-less Sixers in the first round, it took the full seven games to decide a winner in their series with the Toronto Raptors.
The star for Boston is still Jayson Tatum, who is averaging a cool 25.3 points to go along with 10.1 rebounds throughout the playoffs.
The key for Boston is their dynamic wings Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are able to exploit teams in both quickness and agility on the perimeter.
Those two will have their hands full against a Heat team that is known for its gritty defense.
Miami will likely send Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Jae Crowder to contain Tatum like they did Giannis, forcing the Celtics to beat them by other means.
On the other side of the ball, the Heat have made their success from the three-point line. Shooters like Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic, and the emergent Tyler Herro have led Miami in deep shooting, especially from above the break where the Heat are shooting 40.7% in the postseason.
The Heat dismantle teams with erratic ball movement on the perimeter, notably, dribble handoffs and off-ball screens that leave shooters wide open.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 9, 2020
This will also be the first meeting between these teams in the playoffs since 2012, where LeBron James and Dwyane Wade knocked the Celtics out of the ECF in Game 7.
That series was the culmination of a terrific run of playoff battles between the two teams, who met three years in a row with the Heat going 2-1. Now, the teams look drastically different, with the only constants being Eric Spoelstra and Udonis Haslem for Miami.
Game 1 will be the one to watch for basketball bettors looking to find the edge for this series.
No matter who wins tonight, expect an explosive opening to what could be an epic playoff series.
Jimmy began his journalistic journey as a stat recorder and PA announcer for his middle school baseball team. Full of experience across print, broadcast, and sports radio, he brings his knowledge and toolkit to the LegalSportsBetting team. You can find him watching sports, making parlays, and listening to music on any day ending in Y.