The Boston Celtics are halfway toward making NBA playoff history, and they're favored to keep marching toward an impressive feat on Saturday night.
Boston has won the past two games of the Eastern Conference finals by an average of 15 points to pull its series with the Miami Heat to 3-2. No teamin NBA history has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series, but the Celtics are 2.5-point favorites to even the series in Game 6 in Miami.
The line has held steady at BetMGM, where the Celtics have a slight edge with 52 percent of the spread-line bets and 53 percent of the money backing them to win. However, the Heat's moneyline has seen one-sided action, drawing 79 and 72 percent, respectively, at 125.
DOWN BUT NEVER OUT
The Celtics have won four consecutive games this postseason when facing elimination, including Games 6 and 7 against Philadelphia in the previous round.
"Our back has been against the wall," Boston standout Jaylen Brown said after Thursday's 110-97 home win. "Obviously, we didn't imagine being in this position, being down 3-0, but when adversity hits, you get to see like what a team is really made of."
The Celtics never trailed and led by as many as 24 points in Thursday's game. Two nights earlier, they led by as many as 18 during a 116-99 road win.
The stellar play comes after Boston appeared ready to start the offseason after it was whipped 128-102 in Game 3.
"Game 3, that was as low as you can be," Celtics star Jayson Tatum said. "The good part about being that low is you only can play better. It's only up from there.
"It kind of gave us a sense of just like everybody is counting us out. We're supposed to win. We're supposed to be done, and I think we started to play a little bit more free and relaxed."
The most popular Game 6 prop pick at BetMGM has been the Celtics' Caleb Martin to score more than 12.5 points at -135.
Suddenly, the pressure is on the Heat.
The thought of possibly playing a Game 7 in Boston in a winner-take-all affair isn't appealing.
And that makes Saturday's contest feel like a must-win for both teams.
Yet Miami star Jimmy Butler is downplaying his team's recent issues.
"We've just got to play better," Butler said. "... We are always going to stay positive, knowing that we can and we will win this series. We'll just have to close it out at home."
Butler scored a series-low 14 points and has failed to reach 20 in two of the past three games. However, the second most popular Game 6 prop bet at DraftKings has been Butler at -140 odds to score more than 42.5 combined points, rebounds and assists. The same total at BetMGM is being offered at -115 and is the second most popular prop at the sportsbook.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra befuddled Joe Mazzulla over the first three games but it was the first-year Celtics coach pushing all the right buttons over the past two games.
"One game doesn't lead to the next game," Spoelstra said. "It just doesn't matter. It's about collectively preparing and putting together a great game. We'll play much better on Saturday. That's all we just have to focus on right now."
Heat guard Gabe Vincent (ankle) missed Game 5, but is expected to play Saturday night according to a report by Yahoo! Sports. He was officially listed as questionable by the team.
THEY SAID IT
Celtics: "I mean, it couldn't get no worse than being down 3-0, but we didn't look around, we didn't go in separate directions. We stayed together. We doubled down on what we're good at on defense, and now I think it's a series." -- Jaylen Brown
Heat: "When we started this journey, nobody believed in us. Everybody thought we were going to be out in the first round. Everybody thought we were going to be out in the second round. And now we are here one game away." -- Bam Adebayo
--Field Level Media