In a back-and-forth series, the Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the series tied at 2-2, the winner will be a victory away from the NBA Finals.

The betting odds favor the Celtics on the road. The Game 5 point spread reflects the series predictions entering Game 1, as most experts picked Boston to get by Miami.

The Celtics are favored by 1.5 points in Game 5 at FanDuel Sportsbook. The over/under is 203.5 points.

Boston and Miami have alternated wins through the first four games. It was the Celtics’ turn to pick up a victory in Game 4. Boston blew out Miami 102-82 on Monday in a contest that was actually more one-sided than the final score suggests.

The Heat won the series opener rather comfortably, 118-107. Miami defeated Boston in Game 3 109-103, leading by as many as 26 points. The Celtics trailed by as little as one point late in Game 3.

While the series is tied, an argument can be made that Boston has been the better team in the conference finals. The Celtics have outscored the Heat by 28 points overall. Boston has outscored Miami in nine of the series’ 16 quarters, while the Heat have won just three total quarters in four games.

Jayson Tatum has been the most effective player in the series, his poor Game 3 performance notwithstanding. The Celtics star is averaging 24.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Jaylen Brown leads all scorers with 25 points per game. Al Horford’s 10 rebounds per game are a series high.

Miami has been lifted by an outstanding game from its top players, as well as one of the NBA’s best defenses. Jimmy Butler carried the Heat with 41 points on 19 field-goal attempts in Game 1. Bam Adebayo’s 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists were the difference in Game 3.

The Celtics committed 39 combined turnovers in their two losses. The Heat turned many of those miscues into points.

Why were things so different for Boston in those two losses?

Marcus Smart’s absence was glaring in Game 1. Boston succumbed to Miami’s pressure on the ball without its starting point guard, especially in the third quarter when the Heat scored 39 points to the Celtics’ 14. Butler had little trouble getting to the rim, taking advantage of the fact that Boston didn’t have the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the lineup.

Adebayo exploded in Game 3 when Robert Williams didn’t play. In the three games that Boston’s starting center has played, Adebayo has scored 25 total points.

The Game 5 injury report has drawn heightened attention. Smart missed Game 4 with an ankle injury. Williams has been in and out of the lineup with a knee injury this postseason, raising questions about his availability on Wednesday.

Tyler Herro missed Game 4 for the Heat with a groin injury. Butler played in Game 4, but he was largely ineffective after sitting out the second half of Game 3 with knee inflammation. After missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, Kyle Lowry has 14 points and eight assists in 50 minutes for Miami.

With 48 hours in between games, neither team has much time to rest and recover. It should be a relatively low-scoring contest, highlighted by two of the NBA’s best defenses.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra likely prefers a low-scoring game. Miami is shooting 33.8% from 3-point range in the series. Over the last three contests, they are averaging 97.7 points per game. Boston’s playoff defensive rating is nearly identical to what it was during the regular season when it was the best in the league.

The Celtics are less prone than the Heat to offensive lulls due in part to their perimeter shooters. Brown has been a consistent scorer, putting up at least 18 points in nine straight games before Game 5. As seen with Boston facing elimination in the second round, Tatum is capable of carrying the offensive load.

If the Celtics can avoid making too many back-breaking turnovers, Game 5 and the series lead should be theirs to lose.

Game 5 Prediction: Celtics over Heat, 103-97

Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics celebrates a three point basket with teammate Al Horford #42 during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 19, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Eric Espada/Getty Images