NBA Playoffs spread play in Celtics-Heat, a Premier League pick: Best Bets for May 21

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, right, dunks in front of Miami Heat guard Max Strus (31) during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals in Boston, Friday, May 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Sunday, May 21:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 3, Celtics -3.5 over Heat

The odds: -106

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:30 p.m. (TNT)

Our take: The Miami Heat are in the midst of a magical run. Erik Spoelstra and Co. are looking to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2020. The Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed is just two games away from doing so — and it can clinch a place at home now — thanks to two surprising wins in Boston.

The Celtics looked sluggish and outmatched late in each of the series’ first two games. Jayson Tatum and other Boston stars have failed to show up when the team needs them most early in this series. Jimmy Butler has taken advantage of these slip-ups and he has his team with one foot into the 2023 NBA Finals.

Don’t expect this trend to continue though. The Celtics haven’t lost three games in a row since March 3-6. In fact, Boston has only dropped three consecutive contests three times all year.

The Celtics will absolutely turn it around at some point — and we’re banking on that point being in Game 3. Boston has dug itself a hole in these ECF but it’s not impossible to climb out. If the Heat manage to win Game 3, however, the lead will be insurmountable.

No matter how badly Boston is playing at the time, NBA fans know after the comeback against the Philadelphia 76ers that one of the league’s best teams shows up when it matters the most. The Celtics have their backs against the wall, expect them to be firing on all cylinders in Miami this evening.

Three points should be an easy cover for the former title favorites.

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY

The play: English Premier League, Leeds United money line over West Ham

The odds: +160

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:30 a.m. (USA Network)

Our take: When I started writing about this pick, this game was one that was going to be played between two teams looking to avoid relegation. After Saturday’s results, West Ham United is officially safe from the drop and it’s only Leeds United fighting for its life in the top flight.

The Irons are coming off an incredibly emotional UEFA Europa Conference League semifinal victory. They can win their first European trophy since the 1964/65 European Cup Winners’ Cup on June 7 with a win over Italian side Fiorentina. Furthermore, they are mathematically safe in the Premier League.

Desperation sometimes brings out the best in teams, as it did with the Whites last season. Leeds’ players know what it takes to stay up, as does manager Sam Allardyce, who is regarded as a specialist manager who often saves his teams from the drop.

West Ham has nothing to play for in this contest. This opens the door for the visitors — who have played quite well recently — to grab a massive three points and move one step closer to remaining in the first division of English football.

It’s worth a gamble on Big Sam and his team at +160 odds.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Saturday’s best bets

NBA Playoffs: Lakers -5½ over Nuggets (LOST)

Preakness Stakes: National Treasure to place (WON)

Saturday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 8-3, 1 pending

Total for May: 23-16, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 111-121, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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