Can Jaylen Brown fix his shot and keep the Celtics alive? Plus, other best bets for Thursday
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All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
• Key Trend: Jaylen Brown is shooting 39% in the series and averaging 16.8 points per game.
Jaylen Brown isn't right. In the first game of the series, he slipped driving to the basket and landed awkwardly on his left arm or elbow. His shot has been jacked up ever since. Brown finished that game with 22 points on 10-21 shooting, was only 1-6 from three and 1-2 at the free throw line. It was a sign of things to come.
In the three games since, Brown has shot 35.7% from the field and 42.9% at the free throw line. He hasn't scored more than 17 points and is averaging 15. He hasn't finished a game with at least 23 points since the final game of the series against Philadelphia. And the numbers don't tell the whole story.
If you watch Brown on offense, you see a player extremely hesitant to shoot from outside the paint. Most of his points are being scored at the rim and in transition. If Boston's in the halfcourt, he's looking to pass more than to shoot. It's clear he isn't comfortable, and whatever the injury is has affected him mentally and physically.
My hunch is we'll see it continue tonight, and it's hard for any NBA player to score 23 points in a game exclusively in the paint. Sure, Boston may get out in transition enough to get Brown countless attempts at the rim, but it isn't likely.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model has a slight lean on the total, while our SportsLine experts have no shortage of plays they're making tonight.
The Pick: Marcus Smart Over 5.5 Assists (-160) -- It's heavy juice, but it's worth the squeeze. Smart hasn't been as impactful in this series as he was against the Sixers. However, Smart played well in the second half of the last game, and while his overall game hasn't been great, he's been an effective distributor.
While he only had three assists in Game 2, he's finished with at least six in the other three games. Furthermore, Smart has finished with at least six assists in 22 of Boston's 37 home games this season. Against Miami, he's finished with at least six assists in five of seven games this year, averaging seven per game.
The Pick: Bam Adebayo Over 12.5 Rebounds & Assists (-103) -- For whatever reason, Adebayo averages more rebounds and assists on the road than at home. Outside Miami, he averaged 12.8 rebounds and assists per game in the regular season, compared to 11.9 at home. The playoffs have been no different. He's averaging 14.4 rebounds and assists in eight road playoff games compared to 10.4 at home.
With Miami slightly shorthanded tonight, I expect Bam to get even more minutes than he's already received, particularly because Erik Spoelstra doesn't seem comfortable giving Kevin Love many minutes in this series. Barring a blowout that sees him sitting a chunk of the fourth quarter, Adebayo should easily cruise past this total.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Indianapolis 500 is this weekend and SportsLine's Mike McClure has everything you need to know to profit off it.