- The Miami Heat won Game 4 on Wednesday to take a 3-1 lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals
- Miami has shortened to -560 to make the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014
- How should you bet this series the rest of the way?
It wasn’t pretty, but the Miami Heat took the win in Game 4 on Wednesday. They are one win away from the NBA Finals, which would be the franchise’s first since LeBron James departed. Boston faces elimination after once again losing a game they will feel they could have won.
Boston must overturn a 3-1 series deficit if they are to represent the East in the Finals.
The latest Eastern Conference Finals odds have the Heat as -560 favorites to make the Finals.
Celtics vs Heat Eastern Conference Finals Series Odds
Odds from DraftKings on September 24th
While the Celtics might have four of the six best players in this series, the Heat have far superior depth. Erik Spoelstra has so many options on his bench, and one of them came up huge in Game 4. Tyler Herro dropped 37 points, the second-most in a playoff game by a player aged 20 or younger.
He was draining threes off the dribble (there was a particularly outrageous stepback over Marcus Smart from way beyond the arc), he was driving by elite defenders and finishing creatively. It was a complete offensive performance, capped off by a couple of clutch free throws late and a tenacious defensive effort.
Herro grabs the attention, and rightly so, but his effectiveness reflects the depth of this Heat roster.
Kendrick Nunn, who finished second in ROY voting, has been a fringe player in this series; Meyers Leonard is no more than a cheerleader; and Kelly Olynyk didn’t get on the court in Game 4. Where the Celtics have top-tier talent, Miami has far more good players.
Jimmy Butler doesn’t need to score 30 for them to win games. Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder have had big games, and Duncan Robinson has owned quarters with his quick-trigger shooting. It has been masterful front office work to build this roster – Miami can win in so many different ways. There is no sure-fire way to stop them.
Herro is very unlikely to repeat Wednesday’s display, but a strong rebounder and good passer, he still offers so much to the team. At just 20 years old, he’s a productive player in the Eastern Conference Finals, which is itself extraordinary, and all the more so when you remember he was fell to 13th.
No Injury Concern for Adebayo
Bam Adebayo was clearly playing through pain at the end of Game 4. A sore wrist didn’t take him out of the game, but the Heat center kept wincing. Fortunately for Miami backers, Adebayo spoke post-game and said, “I’m good” when asked about the wrist.
It was awkwardly twisted while wrestling for rebounding position with Jayson Tatum.
Adebayo: “We’re underdogs. No one expected us to be here. No one wanted us here…that’s what I love about this team.” pic.twitter.com/dxPpB7Sh73
— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) September 24, 2020
An injury to Adebayo would change the balance of this series massively. He is the anchor of this Heat defense, and gives paint presence on the offensive end, which made Brad Stevens second-guess using small line-ups.
Boston was destroyed by Adebayo on pick-and-rolls in Game 2. His block won Miami Game 1. His switchability gives them so much flexibility, and the way he controls the interior has been a big part of the effectiveness of the zone. The Celtics are reluctant to drive to the rim with Adebayo lurking.
Regardless of who wins this Heat – Celtics series, is Jim Boeheim smiling watching the Miami Heat play this much zone this effectively in a Conference Finals?
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) September 24, 2020
He hasn’t filled the stat sheet, but Adebayo has been pivotal in this series at both ends of the floor.
Boston Lose Offense Late On
Boston, on multiple occasions in this series, have been stifled in the fourth quarter. The offense loses it’s rhythm, and the length of the Heat on the perimeter forces poor decisions.
The Celtics turned it over 19 times in Game 4, seven of which came in the final 12 minutes. Where they attacked Miami’s zone in Game 3, they were unable to drive as effectively on Wednesday, and the late-game offense became stagnant.
Off-ball movement was almost non-existent, and they relied on Jayson Tatum’s shot-making to keep them in the game.
Five turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter for the Celtics. Against a zone defense.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) September 24, 2020
All four games of this series have been close. Boston’s only win came when they built a sufficient lead in the first half to hold Miami in the fourth. The Celtics scored over 50 points in the paint in that game, but they once again struggled late on, turning it over six times in the fourth quarter.
Late game execution has been the difference between these teams. If Tatum continues to shoot as he did in the second half of Game 4, then the fourth quarter won’t matter. These are fundamental issues for Boston, though, and it makes it very hard to see them mounting a comeback.
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