The marquee game Thursday in the NBA is Celtics-Heat as Boston visits Miami for the first time since the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. Boston won Game 6 in Miami to force a Game 7 back up north, which the Heat won in a huge upset. Miami is +8 tonight on the SportsLine consensus, the biggest margin by which it has been a home underdog this decade. That's due in part to the Heat playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight. Click here for model picks.
All sportsbooks are different, but the last time Miami was at least +8 at home was Feb. 27, 2019, vs. Golden State. The Heat won 126-125. Coach Erik Spoelstra's team has been a home dog four times this season (highest spread was +4.5) and is 0-4 straight up and against the spread. Those games came against Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minnesota and Oklahoma City. Not every team has been a home dog this season, but the Heat and Clippers are the only clubs winless as one (Los Angeles has only been a home dog once).
Miami made a fairly significant trade on Tuesday in acquiring guard Terry Rozier from Charlotte for Kyle Lowry and a future first-round pick. Rozier made his Heat debut in Wednesday's 105-96 home loss to Memphis. The Heat, who have dropped four straight, had no right losing at home to the incredibly short-handed Grizzlies, but were clearly looking ahead a bit to this showdown. Rozier had nine points on 3-for-11 shooting off the bench.
Big man Kevin Love left with an illness and is in question for Thursday along with rookie Jaime Jaquez, who has missed six in a row with a groin injury. The Heat's next win will mark the 1,500th regular season victory in franchise history, and Miami would become the 10th-fastest team in NBA history to get there. Expect a rare sellout and raucous crowd tonight.
The Celtics are healthy and have a huge rest advantage as they've been off since Monday's 119-110 win in Dallas. Jayson Tatum (39) and Jaylen Brown (34) combined for 73 points in the win. They became the first teammates in NBA history to each log at least 30 points and two blocks with zero turnovers in the same game. They are the only two players in the Eastern Conference averaging at least 23.0 points and 5.0 rebounds and less than 3.0 turnovers per game while shooting 35% from the 3-point line.
Boston is the lone NBA team in the top three in both offensive (120.1) and defensive rating (110.3). It beat visiting Miami in the first meeting this season, 119-111, on Oct. 27 in the second game of the season for both teams.
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