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NBA Picks: May 17

By Lior Lampert

Four teams remain with a trip to the NBA finals at stake. The Eastern Conference finals matchup begins with the Boston Celtics heading to Miami to face the Heat in Game 1. Which team will take a 1-0 lead to begin the series?

The Boston Celtics have been more battle-tested than any team during this NBA playoffs. First, they had to go up against the favorites to win the East (the Brooklyn Nets), followed by a second-round matchup against last year’s reigning champs. It feels as though this may actually be the best/easiest matchup they have seen just yet, which is scary to think about if you’re the Miami Heat or a supporter of the team. Pair that with the fact that Boston has yet to play a game where their trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart all find a rhythm simultaneously - The Miami Heat could be in for a rude awakening.

The Heat’s journey to the conference finals wasn’t as daunting as Boston’s, but they continue to dominate their matchups. Miami faced the eight-seeded Atlanta Hawks and a Philadelphia 76ers team featuring an injured Joel Embiid and a seemingly washed-up James Harden. Regardless of the opponent, Jimmy Butler has had his team ready for any challenge that presents itself. He’s been locked in and arguably the best player in the postseason thus far: averaging 28.7PPG, 7.6RPG, 5.4APG, and 2.1SPG through 10 games. Will Butler and the Heat be able to handle the improved level of competition?

This should be an exciting series between two teams who really don’t have much separating them from one another. Both teams are known for their ability to lock you down defensively and their ability to spread the floor and make threes. Although, I personally believe that the Celtics have three of the four best players in this series, which ultimately determines my pick for both Game 1 and the series. Boston is playing as a unit and more connected than any team in basketball, which has led to a championship-level play. They’re coming into American Airlines Arena for Game 1 with extreme confidence and I believe that they will be flexing their muscles in this one. Take Boston to throw the first punch and win this game outright while claiming home-court advantage for the remainder of the series.

Pick: Celtics ML (+105 via Caesar’s Sportsbook)

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