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Indiana Pacers vs Boston Celtics: betting odds and predictions for May 23

Publish Date: 05/23/2024
Fact checked by: Allan Howe

Nobody expected the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics to be all that close, yet it was the massive underdogs to hold a lead in the final minute of Game 1 prior to a back-breaking three from Jaylen Brown which ultimately delivered Boston an overtime victory.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Now, it's back to the drawing board for the Pacers who will attempt to produce the same level which put them in a winning position on Tuesday. Can their defense stay hot for a fourth straight game, or will the league's second-best offense during the regular season pick up the slack and pull away from their opponents and move two games away from a spot in the NBA Finals?

Let's get into the best way to bet on the Pacers vs. Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

INDIANA PACERS VS. BOSTON CELTICS FANDUEL ODDS FOR MAY 23

MONEY LINE

  • INDIANA PACERS: +310
  • BOSTON CELTICS: -390

SPREAD

  • INDIANA PACERS: +9 (-112)
  • BOSTON CELTICS: -9 (-108)

OVER/UNDER (TOTAL)

  • OVER 224.5 (-110)
  • UNDER 224.5 (-110)

BEST ODDS FOR INDIANA PACERS VS. BOSTON CELTICS

  • The best odds on the Indiana Pacers are over at DraftKings, who are offering Pacers +9 (-110)

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  • You'll find the best odds on Boston at BetRivers, offering Celtics -8.5 (-113)

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  • The best place to bet on the Over is BetMGM, offering Over 223.5 (-115). The best odds on the Under are at DraftKings, who has Under 225 (-120)

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INDIANA PACERS VS. BOSTON CELTICS INJURY REPORT

INDIANA PACERS INJURY REPORT

  • BENNEDICT MATHURIN - OUT - SHOULDER

BOSTON CELTICS INJURY REPORT

  • KRISTAPS PORZINGIS - OUT - CALF
  • XAVIER TILLMAN - QUESTIONABLE - PERSONAL REASONS

WHY INDIANA PACERS WILL COVER THE SPREAD

There was only one team better at scoring the basketball during the regular season than the Celtics, and it was the Pacers. Indiana put up a whopping 121.2 points per 100 possessions to clear them by over two points and has looked the part of a behemoth during the playoffs, capping off the Eastern Conference Semifinals with two straight games with an Offensive Rating over 130.

Things changed in Game 1 against Boston, who also possesses one of the league's top five defenses, but the encouraging trend for the Pacers is that their defense has remained very strong over the last three games.

There was plenty of talk about Indiana's numbers on that end being a bit inflated due to playing some shorthanded teams the past two rounds, but the sample size is becoming too large to ignore.

The Pacers have a way in here if they continue to defend with excellence. They can make their biggest mark at the rim, where they finished among the best teams in the league in opposing field goal percentage. The Knicks shot just 60.8% from within four feet in the conference semis, and for the playoffs the Pacers are defending at a spicy 62.2% clip inside.

Boston has shot better than 75% in this zone during the playoffs, so it would seem Indiana has a discernable way to slow Boston a bit.

On the flip side, the Celtics have allowed 72.2% shooting at the rim during the playoffs, possibly missing the services of Kristaps Porzingis a bit, and in Game 1 the Pacers were able to convert on 77.8% of shots from within four feet. Indiana may not have scored at a very efficient clip, but there were plenty of shots falling from the mid-range and in the paint, so just a palatable defensive showing will do here.

WHY BOSTON CELTICS WILL COVER THE SPREAD

One thing the Pacers don't do all that well is defend the 3. I mean, they don't really defend that well at all if we look back at the regular season, but in holding Boston to nearly 34% from 3, they produced a statistical outlier of a game.

Indiana has allowed a poor 36.9% of shots to fall from 3 during the playoffs and last round against the Knicks its performance was even more questionable considering its opponent shot nearly 39% from deep.

The Celtics have opted to shoot a 3 on a ridiculous 43.5% of their possessions these playoffs, the highest mark out of any team that played postseason ball by a considerable margin. They ranked fifth in converting on these looks during the regular season, and with their devastating complement of shooters I think we can expect a much stronger night from the arc in Game 2.

For all that talk about the Pacers' rim protection, too, the Celtics shot a whopping 76% at the rim in Game 1. Sure, the Celtics continued to struggle when defending in the paint, but on the flip side their offense would have looked other-worldly if they shot just a little bit better from 3.

Boston has had to come through a murderer's row of defenses to get to this point, knocking off the Heat and Cavaliers, and even with those tough matchups it's still shot 37.5% from outside according to Cleaning the Glass and a splendid 75.2% at the rim.

It would seem there's nothing that can stop this offense other than shooting variance, and the Pacers are assuredly the worst defense it's faced in the playoffs.

FINAL PACERS-CELTICS PICK & PREDICTION

When you consider the fact that the Celtics have shot 37.9% from 3 at home during the playoffs -- which includes their miserable night in Game 1 -- and 35.7% on the road, that Game 1 performance seems even more unfathomable.

Perhaps some jitters were present as they went just 7-for-22 from outside in the first half and shot a bit better at nearly 37% in the second half, but I wouldn't expect Boston to be held down from outside like it was in Game 1.

On the flip side, the Pacers started strong from 3 and scored at will down low throughout the game, but their shooting tailed off after the hot start as one of the better 3-point defenses to this point in the playoffs begun to lay the clamps on them.

I do think Indiana will continue to have success scoring at the rim, but if its defense takes a step back here as expected, the Celtics should begin to run away with this one.

The Pacers' defense should finally become a liability here after skating by two rounds thanks to several massive injuries, and with that I don't think their offense -- which hit a wall in Game 1 against an elite defense -- will do enough to catch up.

FINAL PACERS-CELTICS PICK & PREDICTION: CELTICS -8.5 (-113)

To keep yourself updated on the newest happenings, be sure to check out our Betting News Section. We've organized all the updates so you can find all you need, in one convenient location.

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