Indiana Pacers @ Boston Celtics | NBA Playoffs Betting Tips and Predictions
The Boston Celtics struggled down the stretch but won the right to host the Pacers in the first round by finishing the season 6-2 including two wins over Indiana. At one point, the Pacers appeared to be a lock to be the No. 3 seed. But after going 7-12 since March 1, they dropped down to the No. 5 seed.
Spread: Boston by 7
Money Line: Pacers +255; Celtics -305
*Odds via BetOnline.ag
Indiana had hoped they could take back the No. 4 seed down the stretch in order to regain homecourt advantage in the first round. But their offence struggled during the final weeks of the regular season, and their defence wasn’t always able to bail them out. By making it to the playoffs, the Pacers have proven that they are much more than Victor Oladipo. But now that they are here, they are going to have to step up their game again if they want to win. They need the defence to get back to playing like a top-three unit. Since March 1, their defensive rating has ranked No. 13. But in that same timeframe, their offence has ranked second to last scoring an average of 105.7 points game. Their defence will keep them in the game but can they muster up enough offence to win is the question. They have scored enough to compete with some better teams but have often failed down the stretch because they didn’t have someone that could make the clutch shot anymore. Someone will need to step up and fill that role if they want to win.
The Celtics entered the season with all the expectations in the world. While they have made it back to the playoffs, there isn’t a whole lot of confidence in them. Head coach Brad Stevens has one of the most talent-packed rosters in the NBA. But he has struggled to find the right combinations on the floor. As a result, the team has struggled to on track in some game and has struggled to stay on track in others. For two weeks in mid-March, the team appeared to be in danger of falling apart (they went 3-5 including a four-game losing streak; March 11-26). In that timeframe, their defence slipped down to 28th in the NBA (117.6 rating). But then they appeared to bounce back during the final seven games of the regular season (107.3 rating; 8th in the NBA). However, when the playoffs start on Sunday, which version of the Celtics is going to show up? How big of a role will the absence of Marcus Smart (oblique tear; out for 4-6 weeks) play?
Indiana Pacers @ Boston Celtics Head-to-Head
The Celtics won the regular season series with the Pacers, three games to one. But the one loss was in Indianapolis and by just one point. However, one of the wins in Boston was by a single basket. From a historical perspective, the Celtics lead the all-time regular-season series with 98 wins to 79 for the Pacers. They have met in the postseason five times and have played a total of 25 games. Boston has won 13 times to 12 for Indiana. But the Pacers have won the last two series, both in the first round (2005: 4-3; 2004: 4-0). Boston won the first three series.
Odds and Predictions
With how they finished the season, the Celtics have every reason to be full of confidence when they step on the court Sunday afternoon. Yes, they will be without Marcus Smart, but it appears that Jayson Tatum has recovered from his injury scare. But will they be able to get back in the same headspace as they were before the break? Because of that, the Pacers may actually have the advantage here since they needed to a change with how they closed out the season. They nearly beat the Celtics in Boston a couple of weeks ago. So, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them do so now. However, taking Boston to win (-305) is still the better choice. But take the Pacers to win against the spread (+7). As for the over/under (209.5), with two defensive teams that tend to struggle on offence, the under is probably a safe bet.
Expert Betting Tip
Don’t be surprised to see Boston slip back into their not-so-good form and for the Pacers to pick their game up. The Celtics will still probably win, but they will not win by more than seven points.