Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers Pick
Boston Celtics (51-33, 40-42-2 ATS) vs. Indiana Pacers (48-36 SU, 40-43-1 ATS)
When: Friday, April 19th, 2019 – 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
By: Matt Lowry, NBA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BOS +3 / IND -3 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 203.5
Last Time Out: Boston won game two 99-91. The Celtics lead the series 2-0.
Around the League:
As we start to get deeper into the first round, we see the better seeds starting to take control. Milwaukee of course is up 2-0 after their dominating wins. Denver lost game three to put the series at 2-1 in favor of the Spurs. Philadelphia dismantled the Nets in game 3 to take a 2-1 advantage. The Pacers are down 2-0 after blowing their big lead in game two. The Celtics as a 3-point underdog? I love them in this game.
Game two was played on April 17th, meaning both teams will receive one day of rest. Boston is 32-19 straight up and 27-24 against the spread with just one day of rest. While the Pacers are 24-26 straight up and 21-29 against the spread in the same scenario.
Defense on the Mind:
To start, we know that the Celtics have the best player in this series. Of course, Kyrie Irving is the man who fills this role. If you have not had the chance to watch, Irving has scored 57 points in just the first two games, an average of 28.5. Not only is Irving lighting up the Pacers, but Jayson Tatum has been an excellent source of points as well. Tatum has scored 41 total points, an average of 20.5 points per game. I could go on and on about how the Celtics have a better offense than the Pacers, but I want to touch on what has really been the reason for the Celtics 2-0 lead.
In this series, defense anchored the Celtic offense. The Celtics were 8th in the league in points allowed in the regular season, an average of 108 points per game. They have gotten better in the playoffs. Just two games into this series, and the Celtics have allowed 165 total points. This is an average of 82.5 points per game. Not to mention they are holding the Pacers to below 40% in the first two games combined. Now I do not know what changed between the regular season and the playoffs, but the Celtics are looking like a team that can not only challenge the Bucks in the second round, assuming they can close out the Pacers, but can make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. I cannot see the Pacers breaking through this improved Celtics’ defense and this will be why the Celtics will win and go up 3-0 in the series.
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Second Half Blues:
The Pacers have not played terribly in this series, even though they find themselves down 2-0. However, where they have struggled is the second half. Looking at game one, the Pacers scored a total of 29 points in the third and forth quarter combined. This includes an 8-point third quarter. Really Indiana? I have seen rec-games where they score double that total in a quarter. Next, we have game two. The Pacers did a little better in the second half in this game, but still only managed to score 41 points. This time they failed in the fourth quarter, scoring only 12 points, which saw them blow a double-digit lead. So, based on this, the only way I can see the Pacers coming away with a win is if they step up their second half scoring.
Another way the Pacers can win is if they can get increased scoring from the bench. By this I am specifically talking about Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is starting to become a good role player and has averaged 14.1 points per game this season. I did some more digging and found that he scored 55 points against the Celtics in the regular season. This is an average of 13.8 points per game. We’ll take that right? However, any success Sabonis previously had against the Celtics has all but gone away through two games in this series. Sabonis has scored a total of 8 points in the playoffs. In game two, he had 1 point from a free-throw… 1 point. Granted, the Pacers have yet to beat the Celtics this season in six total games, but still if they want any chance of climbing back into this series, the bench must show up and cannot look like they are playing pick-up basketball at the YMCA.
Given the fact that the Celtics have easily taken down the Pacers in two games so far, I like them to win on the road. I like the Celtics even more knowing that they are a 3-point underdog at most sportsbooks. Jump on the Celtics now before it is too late and take them to handle the Pacers on the road.
NBA Free Pick: Boston Celtics +3