Celtics vs. Heat prediction: Boston is sizzling, but today’s wagering target is a team total

Miami's perimeter defense can influence the team total

Heat vs. Celtics prediction
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) takes a shot against Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Miami. The Associated Press

The Boston Celtics will put their four-game winning streak on the line when they host the Miami Heat and we have Celtics vs. Heat predictions.

Boston’s success even began before this recent run, as it already has a nine-game winning streak in the short season.

Miami has also put together a string of victories as it’s unbeaten in its past three games. However, the Heat are currently riddled with injuries, as Jimmy Butler headlines a list of 12 Miami players on the injury report.

Although Butler and Victor Oladipo are already ruled out, I suspect Miami will be able to get some players back for this game.

And with so much uncertainty about who’s available, I’m not in any hurry to blindly back the Celtics as 9.5-point favorites.

However, I’ve uncovered some intriguing statistics that might support a different type of play on the Celtics tonight.

Heat vs. Celtics odds

Spread: 9.5 +3.5 (-115) vs. BOS -9.5 (-105)

Moneyline: MIA (+290) vs. BOS (-375)

Total: Over 222.5 (-110) | Under 222.5 (-110)

Heat vs. Celtics pick

Celtics team total: over 115.5 points

Heat vs. Celtics analysis

I sometimes wonder what the NBA would look like if teams played fewer games.

The injuries don’t make it easy when you’re trying to handicap a game. Last night, the Clippers were just another example of a team that managed to step up despite missing some star players.

Los Angeles rallied from 18 points in the second half to sink my ticket on the Trail Blazers. That outcome alone is enough to keep me from laying the 9.5 points with the Celtics.

However, Boston’s team total of 115.5 points does pique my interest. During this winning streak, the Celtics have exceeded this number in all four games.

Boston’s perimeter shooting has been well-chronicled, given that according to TeamRankings, it leads the league with 16.7 3-point field goals per game.

But more importantly, Miami’s inability to defend the 3-point line could be their biggest undoing.

Despite ranking seventh in defensive efficiency, Miami is 26th in perimeter defense, allowing opponents 13.1 3-point field goals per game.

Moreover, the Heat are doing a terrible job running opponents off the 3-point line.

Teams are averaging 37.6 3-point attempts against the Heat, which is the third-highest mark in the league.

Only the Golden State Warriors (42.9 per game) attempt more 3-point shots than Boston (41.4 per game).

According to EV Analytics, Boston has the highest return when betting the over in its team total at 6.10 units (25.42% ROI).

Thus, I’ll take a shot with the Celtics to go over 115.5 points.

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