The 2023 Eastern Conference Finals are set! Following a game 7 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals , the Boston Celtics will once again take on the Miami Heat for a place in the NBA Finals.
Here's the full schedule before we get into any predictions:
|May-17||Game 1||8:30 p.m.|
|May-19||Game 2||8:30 p.m.|
|May-21||Game 3||8:30 p.m.|
|May-23||Game 4||8:30 p.m.|
|May-25||Game 5||8:30 p.m.|
|May-27||Game 6||8:30 p.m.|
|May-29||Game 7*||8:30 p.m.|
Game 1 Moneyline Prediction: Celtics (-345)
The first game of the Eastern Conference Finals matchup is billed for May 17th 8:30pm ET, and will set the tone for what is expected to be an exciting series showdown.
With the home game advantage, I expect the Celtic fans to come out in full force, which should help Boston start strong. Even ESPN themselves are giving Miami just a 14.6% shot at winning the series opener, and the sportsbooks seem to agree:
Game 1 Odds:
We're going with the sportsbooks here and betting on Boston to take the victory in Game 1.
Game 1 Total Points: Over 210.5 (-110)
After scouring the web for all the expert picks for Game 1, it looks like they all expect both teams to crack the century mark on points.
Here's one of the expert takes on just why we should see plenty of buckets scored in the opening matchup.
Boston finished the regular season ranked third in defensive efficiency and has backed up the hype by allowing a 44.3% opponent shooting percentage in the postseason (No. 2 among teams left). The Celtics are also averaging 5.5 blocks per game, showcasing how they can defend the paint with relative ease. Boston has the momentum coming off a glorious Game 7 win, so give me the home team to win.
Larry Rupp of FanDuel
So, with that being said, we're taking the over on the total points line which is currently set at 210.5, which also seems to be the favourite for the bookies. Only one game in their 4 matchups this year ended with less than 210.5 points, so we're going with the trend for this pick
Series Prediction: Celtics in 7 (-500)
Boston secured the victory in a thrilling 7-game series in Miami last year, but things are very different this time around...
Last series, Miami entered the playoffs as the top seed in the East, but are now the underdogs heading into the matchup. Meanwhile, the sportsbooks favour the Celtics to come out on top, with the home-court advantage helping their odds.
Series Odds (BetMGM):
Despite the odds, this matchup truly feels like a coin toss, especially when we look at the results of their regular season matchups.
Oct. 21, 2022: Celtics 111, Heat 104
Nov. 30, 2022: Celtics 134, Heat 121
Dec. 2, 2022: Heat 120, Celtics 116 (OT)
Jan. 24, 2023: Heat 98, Celtics 95
No crazy blowouts. Neither team undefeated. Just an even, 50/50 split. And that's what makes this one so tough to call, regardless of what the sportsbooks say.
Under the guidance of coach Erik Spoelstra, Miami manage to follow their game plan every night. Alongside great team discipline, Jimmy Butler - also known as "Playoff Jimmy" - has the ability to win postseason games all on his own. What's more? They knocked out the No.1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in a shocking 4-1 series.
On the other hand, Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics' coach, lacks the same amount of experience in the playoffs and has made some questionable decisions in his first season. The Celtics have also shown inconsistency in their performance, and some of their losses have been very puzzling. But when comparing the players individually, the Celtics have a clear advantage in terms of talent. We can slightly favour Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the other members of the Celtics team over the Miami roster...
We're expecting a back-and-forth series, with close games taking this one the whole way, but the Celtics odds seem more favourable here.
This also means we’re making a series score prediction of Celtics 4-3 Heat, which you can find at +300 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
So there you have it, our predictions for Game 1 and the entire Eastern Conference Finals series.
(Header Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)