NBA

NBA Betting Guide for Tuesday 5/17/22: Will the Heat Defend Home Court Again?

We're down to just four teams as the Conference Finals begin Tuesday. Which east coast bully will prevail to open the series with a statement?

Betting on the NBA can be tricky, but you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit. You can also track spread bet percentages at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's games? All odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook, and all ratings are out of five stars.

Celtics Moneyline (+108)

The Miami Heat have yet to lose a playoff game at home this season. Our model doesn't believe that streak ends Tuesday, but I'm going against it.

Miami was an excellent home team this season, posting a +5.8 net rating (seventh-best in the NBA). However, the vaunted Celtics' defense carried them to a +7.7 net rating on the road -- the best mark in all of basketball.

The model -- for its truthers -- gives the Heat a slight 56.2% chance to win this contest as a -126 favorite. However, the model itself pointed me in this direction. In the 20 most similar contests to this one in numberFire's database, the team representing Boston won 12 times.

Boston also owned Miami in the regular season with a +39 point differential across three games. That included a 95-78 smothering in South Beach.

67.0% of home teams have been favored in Game 1 of a series since 2016. It likely would be too bold to favor Boston in Game 1 given the quality of team Miami is, but our model overall believes the C's to be the better team entering this series.

First Basket Scorer - Jimmy Butler (+600)

Admittedly, these first basket darts can be tough to nail, so always bet lightly for a little bit of fun.

Especially in a series like this, don't change your process. If this series goes seven games, hitting the same basket scorer twice will result in a profit given the odds we typically see.

With Robert Williams on the bench for Boston, it appears a Miami player is the best bet for now. Bam Adebayo has 57.0% of his career jump balls compared to just 51.5% for an aging Al Horford.

I'm shocked to see six-to-one odds on Jimmy Butler (+600) given how he's dominated the first-quarter scoring for Miami. Butler has taken 5.7 first-quarter attempts in the playoffs, and he's added 2.0 free-throw attempts in the first period. The next-highest combined opportunity to score is Max Strus (4.4), but he's well off Butler's usage.

If Horford were to win the tip, Jayson Tatum (5.9) is Boston's most voluminous first-quarter player, and he's available at +700 odds. Betting small bits on both all series might be optimal should the odds stay relatively close to these current ones.

Swaim-Game Parlay (+569)

Celtics ML
Max Strus Under 2.5 Threes
Jayson Tatum Over 4.5 Assists

With just one game on tap, it's Same Game Parlay season on FanDuel Sportsbook now more than ever.

For my lay of the day, I'm pairing Celtics ML -- as arrived upon earlier -- with two props I find interesting.

I'm looking at Max Strus Under 2.5 Threes (+136) to start. Strus is red hot entering this series with a 40% three-point rate in the final three games of Miami's series with Philadelphia. However, I'm expecting tougher sledding for Strus in this series.

Boston has allowed the third-fewest three-point attempts (28.5) in the league, and Miami has shown a willingness to sit Strus if the three-ball isn't working. Even though he usually plays during blowouts, Max has played fewer than 28 minutes in 5 of the 10 games this postseason.

The market also appears to not have adjusted to Jayson Tatum's newfound playmaking skills. Tatum is averaging 12.5 potential assists in the playoffs, and they've converted at a 48.8% clip. He's eclipsed five dimes in 8 of the 11 games in the playoffs thus far.

Even with the low total, that brings Jayson Tatum Over 4.5 Assists (-144) into play. He averaged 5.4 assists per contest against Milwaukee despite fewer than 204 points scored in five of the seven games.