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NBA Picks: May 23

By Michael Harty

With only one game in the Association on Monday night, we will be heading back to TD Garden for Game 4 where the Boston Celtics play host to the Miami Heat. The Celtics, who trailed by as much as 25 in Game 3 were able to rally to make it a somewhat entertaining finish, ultimately Miami had done enough to hold on to a crucial 109 -103 win. All 3 games in this series have seen one team lead by 25 points or more at a certain point in the game, which has been a letdown from a viewing experience. Trying to predict what will happen in Game 4 will be quite tricky given the injury status of a few key pieces on both sides, but we should expect a max effort out of the Celtics as they try to even the series up before heading back to Miami.

Starting with the road team, Miami could be forced to play the entire game without their star player Jimmy Butler. Butler, who left Game 3 at halftime with knee inflammation is deemed questionable for tonight's contest. Given Miami has the advantage in the series, it will be interesting to see how coach Spoelstra manages his superstar. When a player as impactful as Butler goes down someone is forced to carry the load, and that someone was center Bam Adebayo. Adebayo, who had been stymied in Games 1 and 2, but then exploded for 31 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Adebayo was extremely efficient, carving up the Celts' interior from the beginning of the game. He had reached his Game 1 and 2 point totals early in the second quarter. With Celtics center Robert Williams missing the game, Adebayo wreaked havoc on Daniel Theiss, who was a -13 in only 11 minutes of action. Coach Ime Udoka will have to really reconsider an alternative if Williams can't go tonight.

Celtics all-world superstar Jayson Tatum will look to rebound after having what could be described as his worst game of his young postseason career. Tatum did not look like himself from the start, shooting 3 of 14 from the field while committing 6 turnovers. Both of these numbers are pretty shocking and give credit to coach Spoelstra and his team's defensive game plan. Tatum was not the only one struggling to hold on to the ball, as Jaylen Brown committed 7 turnovers. When you turn the ball over 24 times, and your star player gets 10 points, it usually is not a recipe for success. Tatum and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart both left the game with injuries but promptly returned and should be good to go for tonight’s must-win game.

My gut feeling as this piece is being written is that Robert Williams will be available in Game 4, and if he isn’t I can't imagine Udoka giving Theiss the start again. Adebayo, who was ultra-efficient (15/22) from the field, did a lot of his damage early against Daniel Theiss. Look for either Grant Williams or Al Horford to get the assignment of shutting down the Heat center in Game 4. Adebayo finished with 6 and 10 points in Games 1 and 2. His point total was 13.5 for both games, this has now shot up to 16.5. I think this could be a bit of a market overreaction and am looking to take the under. If Butler is available, I believe we could even get some closing line value as I expect this number could drop.

RECOMMENDED WAGER: Bam Adebayo (MIAMI) UNDER 16.5 Points -123 at bet365

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