A graphic tweeted out by ESPN with a stat from their analytics team about the Miami Heat-Boston Celtics series got a lot of attention.
It said the Heat had practically no chance to win the Eastern Conference finals.
The Miami Heat have a 3% chance of reaching the NBA Finals, according to ESPN Analytics 😮 pic.twitter.com/CbeoYzZQOx
— ESPN (@espn) May 15, 2023
Anyone who has bet for a while rolled their eyes at that 97% figure. That's worse than your typical No. 15 seed in the first round of an NCAA tournament game. If you're using implied odds to set a fair line on the Celtics to win the series with that 97% figure, they'd be about -3200 to win. If a sportsbook is hanging those odds, be sure there would be a line to bet the Heat.
In reality, BetMGM has the Celtics as a -550 favorite to win the series, with the Heat as a +400 underdog. Even if that 3% for the Heat is extreme, it does illustrate that Boston is clearly the favorite. Do the Heat have any realistic shot to win?
We'll start to find out on Wednesday night. Boston is an 8.5-point favorite in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at BetMGM.
There is a logical argument to be made for the Heat to be worth at least a look as a +400 underdog to win the series. A lot of it has to do with the Celtics. Boston, a No. 2 seed in the East, had trouble putting away the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and lost two home games in the second round to the Philadelphia 76ers. This isn't some playoff juggernaut; Boston has lost five games in two rounds. The Celtics are good, especially when they hit their top gear, but they're not unbeatable.
The Heat took care of the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the first round, then handled the New York Knicks in six games. And not that regular-season results matter much anymore, but they were 2-2 against Boston. The Heat have an uphill battle, but they're tough, do everything pretty well and Jimmy Butler has been playing out of his mind. Putting their chances at 3% is insulting.
Boston should advances to the NBA Finals. But it might not be that easy for the Celtics.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
MLB has a full day
There are 15 more baseball games on Wednesday, with some afternoon action. There are six afternoon games. One of the highlights is the Minnesota Twins at the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Twins were +165 underdogs on Tuesday and won 5-1 (cashing our Daily Sweat best bet). The Dodgers are -145 favorites on Wednesday and it might be worth another shot on the Twins, a very good first-place team in the AL Central.
One of the better games in the evening is the New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays. It has been a chippy series with accusations about Aaron Judge looking into the dugout on Monday night, and Judge came back with a huge homer on Tuesday to fuel a win. Gerrit Cole is on the mound for the Yankees on Wednesday night and they're -120 favorites.
Champions League semifinal
There's a big UEFA Champions League semifinal match in the afternoon. Manchester City takes on Real Madrid. Man City is a -190 favorite on the three-way line, with Real Madrid at +450 and the draw at +350. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw last Tuesday. The winner advances to the final to meet Inter Milan.
What's the best bet?
I do like the Heat to cover, but for the best bet I'll go with the Yankees. Chris Bassitt has not been good for Toronto this season, so I'll roll with Gerrit Cole as a small favorite.