Celtics vs. Pacers NBA Pick
The Boston Celtics look to get back on track when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.
FiveThirtyEight has the Celtics as 1-point road favorites and most sportsbooks have them at -1.5. That’s a 0.5-point difference from FiveThirtyEight’s Elo-based RAPTOR projections so there’s no betting value on the spread. What’s the right NBA pick?
Boston Celtics (42-21) vs. Indiana Pacers (39-25)
Sunday, March 8 at 3:30 PM ET (ABC), STAPLES Center
Celtics Are Reeling
This is a must-win for the Celtics as they have lost four of their last five games. Beating a conference opponent with playoff aspirations is the shot in the arm they need for the rest of the regular season.
The Celtics have the fifth-best record in the league, even after the tough stretch they are on. Their last three losses were against playoff contenders but what concerns me the most is that their only win came against the weak Cavaliers and that it was just a 112-106 victory. They barely beat the Cavs and the Pacers are a much better team.
In their defense, the C’s have been without Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward for some of their recent contests. Jaylen Brown didn’t play in the 105-104 home loss against the Thunder last Sunday and they haven’t played inspired basketball lately. This has made some of the players question the team’s effort.
“Our effort was sh-t. …”, Marcus Smart said after a 99-94 home loss against the Jazz last Friday. “We gotta punch first and then keep punching back.”
The Celtics are lacking firepower off the bench, especially with these recent injuries. Jaylen Brown missing another game means that Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum have to take over for most of the night. They can create their own shot and be difference-makers. If Walker or Tatum are on the floor at all times, the Celtics can get the win. Tatum was effective as a point-forward against the Cavaliers. He can do the same in Indiana when Walker rests.
Pacers Are Also Banged Up
The Pacers are 6-1 in their last seven games, including a 4-1 road trip that ended with an impressive 112-102 comeback win against the Mavericks. Malcom Brogdon is still out and he is considered week-to-week with a torn left rectus femoris and Jeremy Lamb will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
This means that Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell will get more playing time. Holiday and McConnell are obviously going to see more minutes but T.J. Warren is the player that the Celtics need to worry about the most.
Warren has been one of the best and most consistent scorers for the Pacers and the Celtics have to find a way to neutralize him as a go-to scoring option. The talented forward is playing very well, averaging 21.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 34.7 minutes over his last nine games and the Pacers can win this game if he goes off.
Betting Trends and Prediction
The Under is:
5-2 in Boston’s last seven games against a team with a winning percentage above .600
4-0 in Indiana’s last four Tuesday games
4-1 in Indiana’s last five games following an ATS win
Not all was bad for the Celtics on Sunday. Gordon Hayward returned against the Thunder and he led the team with 24 points on 9 of 19 shooting and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Hayward (plus-0.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) has been an underrated defender and he has been particularly good against bigger forwards like T.J. Warren. He can contain Warren and help us cash this Under.