Heat at Celtics betting preview: Boston to close out series in Game 6

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

After the Warriors closed out the Mavericks at home Thursday, the Celtics have a chance to do the same to the Heat on Friday and punch their ticket to the NBA Finals for the first time in over a decade.

Here's how we're betting Game 6:

Heat @ Celtics (-8, 201.5), 8:30 p.m. ET

In a series defined by blowouts, the Celtics added another to the ledger Wednesday and became the first team to win consecutive games in this series. And with the way they looked in the second half of Game 5, it's hard not to expect a similar result Friday.

The Heat gutted their way to a halftime lead by forcing turnovers - their chief recipe for success all series - and converting easy scoring chances wherever they arose. Those opportunities dried up in the second half when Boston cut down on its sloppy play and let stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown go to work in isolation against Miami's scrappy but middling defenders.

It also suffocated the Heat on the other end, packing the paint and testing Miami's tired and ailing shooters to beat them. The Celtics sagged off Jimmy Butler (4-of-18 shooting), who bullied them earlier this series but is clearly hampered by a knee injury. They dared Kyle Lowry (0-of-6) and Max Strus (0-of-9) to make a shot; neither could. They withstood a barrage from Gabe Vincent (6-of-12), who buried tough shot after tough shot but hit just one three all game.

In the end, the Heat ran out of gas. Miami finished an appalling 5-for-37 (13.5%) on wide-open threes, defined as a shot with a defender not within four feet. For a team with this many capable 3-point shooters, that isn't a reflection of talent. That's exhaustion. We saw it with the Nets and Bucks in the first two rounds. This deep Boston rotation wears down its opponents defensively and has enough of a spark on the other end to finish them.

What do we expect to change in Game 6? Butler and Lowry (hamstring) aren't healthy. Tyler Herro (groin) has missed his team's last two games and is a risky bet to contribute much in this one, even if he plays. To put it plainly, the Heat have zero healthy players who can create their own shot, which is a fatal concern against this switchable and swarming Celtics defense.

To add insult to injury, this game is back in Boston, where the C's won by 20 points the last time these two played there. The Celtics also closed out the Bucks by 28 points in their final home contest of the second round. There's a scenario in which Boston's shooters run cold and Butler guts out one last heroic performance. However, it's not likely enough to justify taking the points on a team that has already been blown out in consecutive games.

Pick: Celtics -8

C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at cjackson.cowart@thescore.com.

Heat at Celtics betting preview: Boston to close out series in Game 6
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