NBA Betting Guide for Tuesday 5/23/23: What Should We Make of the Celtics as an Underdog?

Betting on the NBA can get a little overwhelming throughout the season because there are games every day, and there's just a lot to track throughout the season and entering every night -- spreads, over/unders, injuries, and so on.

But you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often specific betting lines hit. You can also track spread bet percentages at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Where can we identify value in tonight's NBA odds?

(All offensive, defensive, and net rating splits come from and account for medium-, high-, and very high-leverage situations unless otherwise noted. Unless otherwise noted, all injury news and notes come from the official NBA injury report.)

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

Boston Celtics ML (+102) - Lean

As I was in last night's "kind of matters" contest, I'm leaning toward the C's forcing a Game 5, but it helps that they're basically even money to do so. The Lakers, at home, were more expensive.

However, there are moments in sports betting where the data take a backseat. This is one of those. Joe Mazzula's quotes directly placing his head on the chopping block and Woj's reports of the team still being upset with Ime Udoka's dismissal are incredibly ugly.

I just can't formally recommend a Boston moneyline play in good faith with all that transpiring. Do I believe the Miami Heat are shooting well above their pay grade? Absolutely. Their 60.5 eFG% in this series is significantly higher than their playoff mark (55.8%) and regular-season clip (53.0%). It won't last forever, but at this point, that'll probably play to the Nuggets' benefit rather than Boston's.

When looking at Basketball Reference's Four Factors, the Celtics need to rebound better and take better care of the basketball to win. Miami's shooting will fall eventually. But for the Celtics to fix their turnovers and rebounding, that likely requires self-belief and excellent discipline, and given the coaching concerns, that might not be something that they can turn around in two days.

Under 216.5 (-110)

Luckily, we have another great angle to take advantage of the Heat's impending shooting regression.

This total makes no sense even if you're doing just doing surface-level research. This series has averaged 225.0 total points in the three games so far, and it's pushed at 216.0 once. However, the 97.2 pace in this series is glacial.

At that pace, these teams would need an average offensive rating of 111.1 to get to this over, and I could see one plummeting there quite easily. Boston, amidst their disastrous circumstances, was at 103.0 last game. Miami is at 124.4 in this series, but, as we've mentioned, they are due to miss more shots, and the drop could come quickly given their volatility from deep.

Miami's currently taking 35.8 shots from deep per game in the playoffs and making 38.8% of them. On that same volume with their regular-season make rate (34.4%), there's your pair of triples that would make all the difference in their offensive rating. This isn't even accounting for the possibility of a cold night well below that decent mark.

This under is getting less than 15% of bets and tickets at a pick'em. At the very least, we're getting every drop of value by ignoring the mass of folks flocking to the over.