NBA Playoff Betting – Lots of questions about Celtics after emasculation by Heat
The Miami Heat came into this NBA Eastern Conference finale series primed and prepared to do battle, seeking some payback after being ousted in the East finals last season by the Boston Celtics, who moved on to face the Golden State Warriors.
But as they lace them up for Game 4 of this series, they look very much like a team that is a virtual shoo-in to face the Denver Nuggets for all the marbles.
We probably don’t need to remind BetOnline customers that the Heat started in the Play-In Tournament as the seventh seed in the East, then had to win a desperation game against Toronto to get through that tournament as the eighth seed going against Milwaukee. Beating the Bucks and Knicks was no fluke, as it turns out.
What has been a big surprise is how non-combative the Celtics have been. They lost both of the games they played in Boston and then, instead of coming roaring back in Game 3, they laid down and let Miami do whatever it wanted, losing by 26. It was pathetic.
And you have to ask yourself where the problem was. I cannot imagine anything like this would have happened when Brad Stevens was the head coach. But Brad Stevens is not the head coach anymore. And Joe Mazzulla looks like he is overwhelmed by the moment. Aside from the non-effort, there are other things at work here. Some certain strategic things and problems have not been corrected. For example, the Heat have really muzzled Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter of these three games. He has gone without a fourth-quarter field goal in the series.
In the NBA playoff betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, Miami is only a slight favorite to complete the four-game sweep:
Miami Heat -1.5
Boston Celtics +1.5
Over 217 Points -110
Under 217 Points -110
What is noticeable is that while Boston’s role players commit the occasional faux pas, like Grant Williams antagonizing Jimmy Butler, the Heat have been getting incredible contributions from unheralded players in defined roles. Erik Spoelstra has a number of undrafted players who have been heard from in a big way. In fact, the top three scorers for them in Game 3 – Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, and Caleb Martin – were all passed over by every NBA team when it came time for the draft.
And Erik Spoelstra has been able to get something out of veterans like Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love, who have come off the bench (Love, who was put on the scrap heap by Cleveland, actually started Game 3 but had to leave with an injury). Mazzulla’s moves just haven’t gone well; you have to get your big scorer going in the fourth quarter.
We’ve seen coaches get fired for failing to get their teams moving forward in the postseason. Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse, Monty Williams, and Doc Rivers have all gotten a pink slip. Three of those guys have an NBA championship under their belts. Mazzulla has a lot less on his resume. The Celtics had a great record at the All-Star break. Mazzulla got a contract extension. But the Celts still had a great record after Ime Udoka took over for Stevens. And they had a great record after Mazzulla took over – rather suddenly – from Udoka.
In light of what happened in this playoff series, did management act too soon in giving him that extension?
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