Let’s get ready to rumble, NBA hoops fans! We have finally reached the elimination phase of the In-Season Tournament, with the Celtics hosting the Pacers this evening to tip off the quarterfinal round (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT). Today we will dive into this Eastern Conference clash, providing you with our best bets and top props for what should be an entertaining night.
Here’s the low-down: the In-Season Tournament has reached the knockout round, with just eight teams remaining in the inaugural IST bracket. We have two games tonight and two games tomorrow, then the semifinals (basically the NBA version of the Final Four) will take place on Thursday. The two teams still standing at the end of the night Thursday will face off Saturday evening to determine the first-ever In-Season Tournament champions.
Whether or not you liked the idea initially, you probably love the tourney by now if you’re a true hoops fan. The action has been intense, with playoff-like atmospheres just weeks into the season. Tonight should be no different, with the East-leading Celtics hosting the young, up-and-coming Pacers. These squads have the potential to be rivals for years to come, and this game offers plenty of betting value.
Let’s get to our best bets for the Celtics-Pacers’ NBA In-Season Tournament Quarterfinals matchups on Monday evening, and help you start your week with some IST money!
NBA In-Season Tournament best bets: Celtics vs. Pacers
- Spread: Celtics -4.5 (-115) | Pacers +4.5 (-105)
- Moneyline: Celtics -190 | Pacers +155
- Over/Under: O 242.5 (-105) | U 242.5 (-115)
The first game of the quarterfinals pits Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the high-flying Celtics against Tyrese Haliburton’s young-gunning Pacers (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT). With Haliburton currently questionable with an upper respiratory infection, Boston opens the day laying 4.5 points to Indiana. And, honestly, that seems like a gift to anyone who likes green.
The new-look Celtics have been coasting through the first 40 days and 40 nights of their regular season, flaunting a 15-4 record on the season and going a perfect 9-0 at home. They recently lost prized big man acquisition Kristaps Porziņģis to a left calf strain, but they have rallied behind the Jays and the ageless Al Horford to win all three games he has missed — and by a combined total of 43 points!
The impact Porziņģis has had on Joe Mazzulla’s team has been enormous, but fellow first-year Celtic Jrue Holiday has also been a revelation at the point. He has made Boston more fluid and connected on both sides of the floor, sparking an immediate chemistry that had been lacking toward the end of the Marcus Smart era. The Celts also have synergy when Jrue rests, with Derrick White and Payton Pritchard also getting the job done as floor generals.
Name what you need to win in today’s NBA, and the Celtics check almost every box. They have made the second-most three-pointers in the Association. They lead the league in defensive rebounds and rank third in total boards. They average 116.7 points per game (eighth-most) while allowing just 107.4 (fourth-fewest). They don’t commit dumb fouls and they rank among the top ten in free-throw percentage. Their +9.5 net rating leads the NBA.
Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield will always be a wild card in a single-elimination format, as will microwave scorers like Bennedict Mathurin and the rim-rattling Obi Toppin. Indy also has the benefit of Myles Turner in the middle and the ever-pesky three-and-D specialist Bruce Brown on the perimeter. However, the Pacers are a glorified pit crew without the main driver of their offense — and even if Haliburton can give it a go, does anyone expect a guy battling an upper respiratory infection to be at 100 percent?
Indiana has gone just 10-8 on the season, in large part because Hali keeps them at such a fast, downhill pace but also can’t stop a nosebleed. Rick Carlisle’s squad has scored the most points in the NBA (128.8), however they have also surrendered an NBA-high 125.9 points per game. Unlike the C’s, who maintain superb ratings on both sides of the floor, Indy has the best offensive rating and the second-worst defensive rating.
Most importantly, the Pacers got blown out by 51 earlier this season when they faced Boston without Haliburton. FIFTY-ONE! Final score: 155-104. Eight Celtics in double-figures. Yikes. The devil’s advocates will say, “But Indiana just beat Miami by 15 without Hali over the weekend!” Sure, that’s great. But the Heat also didn’t have top scorer Tyler Herro or leading big man Bam Adebayo in that game. Not even Heat Culture can beat Myles Turner with 29 minutes of Orlando Robinson.
A lot has changed since June — the 15-4 Celtics are head-and-shoulders better than the 11-9 Heat, never mind the Pacers with a sick and/or absent Haliburton. Boston should stifle Indy at TD Garden, where the C’s have won all nine games by an average of 17.5 points. Let’s go green tonight, boys and girls.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Celtics 121, Pacers 108 — Boston advances to the semifinals and easily covers the spread (-4.5) while the total stays UNDER (242.5).
Source : ESPN.com