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The Celtics and Heat will face off in the No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup in the Eastern Conference, which is also a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals from a year ago. Boston will surely want to exact some revenge against a Heat team that upset them a year ago, and while Miami isn't a team you should write off, Boston is a far stronger team than it was a year ago. 

The Celtics have been the most dominant team all season, as the additions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis have fit in seamlessly and made them stronger on both ends of the floor. Then there's Jayson Tatum, who turned in another MVP candidate season. It's easy to see why Boston is heavily favored, but Miami won't go away easily.

The Heat, proved once again that you can never count them out, even if Jimmy Butler is sidelined, and after an injury-riddled season, they'll try and upset the Celtics. But if there was ever a team that could pull something like that off, it's Miami. 

As we prepare for the Celtics and Heat matchup, here's what you need to know ahead of this Eastern Conference first-round series.

Celtics vs. Heat Game 1

  • Date: Sunday, April 21 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • Location: TD Garden -- Boston
  • TV channel: ABC | Live streamfubo (try for free)
  • Odds: Celtics -14; O/U 208.5


Celtics: This is really Boston's to lose, not just this game, but the whole series. Miami won't have Butler, but that doesn't mean the Celtics should take this game lightly. It'll be important for Tatum, Brown and Porzingis to make a statement in this game, because it'll set the tone for the rest of the series. On defense, Boston will have to focus on not letting Tyler Herro and Jaime Jaquez Jr. go off the way they did against the Bulls in the Play-In game. 

Heat: Miami will be playing with their backs against the wall without Butler who has an MCL injury and is expected to miss several weeks, but we saw in that win against Chicago that its defense can carry them far. Miami's done a good job of defending Boston in the past, but with Porzingis now in the mix, it'll make things tougher for the Heat. Miami's best bet to try and steal this game is making the Celtics uncomfortable on offense and controlling the pace a bit. The Heat are going into this shorthanded and can't afford to let Boston to work up a huge lead because Miami doesn't have the depth to withstand that.  


If Butler were healthy this might be a more compelling series, but with him out I don't see how Miami stands a chance. The Celtics are just too dominant and have very few weaknesses for the Heat to exploit. The Pick: Celtics -14