The Miami Heat entered the Eastern Conference Finals as heavy underdogs to the Boston Celtics. Prediction models famously gave Jimmy Butler and company a 3 percent chance of winning and advancing, as the Celtics are considered the best team remaining in the field of 4.
Miami Heat Shorten Series Odds After Win Over Celtics
JIMMY BUTLER WITH THE DAGGER 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/0XGjDzSlEa
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 18, 2023
But the Heat have faced and overcome similarly long odds in the past. They almost missed the playoffs all together after barely sneaking through the play-in tournament and qualifying for the 8th seed. They went up against the Milwaukee Bucks in their first round series, who were the overall title favorites after finishing the regular season with the best record in the NBA.
The Heat faced even longer odds then. There were some sports books that had Miami as underdogs with designations as large as +1400. But they overcame, thanks to incredible performances from Jimmy Butler and timely step-ups from role players throughout the roster. It marked just the 6th time in league history that an 8-seed took down a 1-seed.
Entering the Eastern Conference Finals this week, the Heat were back to their usual spot on the oddsmaker’s board. Miami was listed as an underdog again, this time with a designation of +430, according to BetOnline.ag. Conversely, the Celtics held a line of -500.
The public agreed. While roughly 50% of the bets were on Boston, an estimated 93% of the total money was coming in on the Celtics.
Tied the NBA record with 6 players scoring 15+ in a playoff game. Balanced attack 👌 pic.twitter.com/RTAlSoOAxR
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 18, 2023
Things have changed quickly as they have with the Miami Heat all season long. Behind another gusty performance from Butler, they were able to roll into Boston and steal Game 1, snatching home court advantage at the first opportunity. A 46-point explosion in the 3rd quarter helped propel Miami to victory, as they took Game 1 by a score of 123-116.
Things have certainly changed in the eyes of the oddsmakers. Miami hasn’t flipped the script yet, and are still technically the underdogs for the rest of the series. But the sports books have taken note of the big Game 1 victory. As it stands on Thursday afternoon, the Heat are now +200 compared to Boston’s -240. Butler and company would still be considered somewhat long shots, but they have closed the gap to at least make the series an entertaining one.
Game 2 is scheduled for Friday night at will again take place in Boston. The Celtics are heavy 9-point favorites, though they were favored by 8 in Game 1.
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