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Celtics vs. Pacers Game 3 Betting Preview: Fade the Trendy Dog?

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Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyrie Irving, Thaddeus Young

Game 3 Betting Odds: Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers

  • Spread: Pacers -3
  • Over/Under: 203.5
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ABC
  • Series Score: Celtics Lead 2-0

>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


The Celtics are 2-0, coming off a dominant Kyrie Irving performance, and they’re an underdog in Game 3? Our analysts discuss that and more.

Trends to Know

A majority of spread tickets are on the Celtics +3. Since 2005, popular underdogs have been bad bets in the playoffs. Underdogs getting more than 50% of bets in the postseason have gone 334-371-9 (47.4%) against the spread.John Ewing

The Celtics are on a roll right now, having won three consecutive games straight up and ATS heading into Game 3 in Indiana. Under Brad Stevens, the Celtics have tended to come back down to Earth in this spot, going 2-5 SU and ATS on the road in the playoffs coming off a streak of at least three consecutive wins SU and ATS. Evan Abrams

The Celtics were listed as the betting favorites in Games 1 and 2, winning and covering the spread in both. They’re now a 3-point underdog on the road, a spot Stevens and Co. don’t tend to love. Abrams

Stevens in the postseason:

  • As favorite: 18-3 (85.7%) ATS
  • As underdog: 11-17 (39.3%) ATS

Locky: My Thoughts on Tonight’s Spread

For those who expect the Celtics to now put the boot on the throat of their opponent… have you watched them this season? Complacency is something they are magnetically attracted to. I think we are going to be waiting for their magical “best game” for quite a while to come.

The Celtics are fit to be a very popular bet at the current number, which absolutely should give you pause. Wait, they’re a dog? But they’re clearly the best team! Again … have you watched Boston this year?

This number is actually startlingly close to what I handicapped (Indiana -2.5), so I don’t think I’m going to get very involved. What I will say is that, to the Pacers’ credit, they may have played like a non-playoff team without Victor Oladipo, but in the second half of the season they had MUCH better home splits than road splits.

And all of that data was accrued without Oladipo. You should see some type of bump in play for them here. It’s a pass for me with them already favored, though. — Ken Barkley


Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game

If you loved defensive, low-scoring games from the 1990s, you have to be salivating watching this series. Game 1 finished with 158 total points, and Game 2 also went under with just 190. The Pacers have posted a playoffs-low 86.4 Offensive Rating, and the Celtics are near the bottom as well at 98.4.

Interestingly, though, the Pacers have gotten the second-highest percentage of “wide-open” shots — classified by NBA.com as a defender six-plus feet away. They’ve barely hit any of those — 31.7%, to be exact. The Celtics have been incredible defensively (as have the Pacers), and their athletes like Jaylen Brown have given good shooters like Bojan Bogdanovic fits, but the “wide-open shots” should surely go in a little more, if nothing else.

Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Indiana Pacers guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44), Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42)

But is that enough to give them value at -3 here? I wrote about some interesting second-half Game 3 trends, and they match those trends. Perhaps that’s worth a look, although I think this is a pretty fair number, as is the total.

The under is obviously easy to make the case for: They haven’t gotten anywhere close to the closing numbers yet, and Game 3’s number is at a low 203.5. Further, the Pacers were one of the most friendly under teams at home this season, going 15-26.

But I’m expecting a little better offense from the Pacers, and Kyrie Irving found his groove in Game 2, so I think that number, while low, is a fair one as well. Again, I’ll be looking at those second-half trends some more, but I think the full-game marks are a pass for me unless something changes. — Bryan Mears


Moore: Value on Boston’s Team Total?

Based on the overall trends that Bryan Mears found for home teams in the first half of Game 3s, I want to grab Indiana in the first half. Other than that, I have to stay away.

The Celtics team total over/under is 100, and that seems yogurt soft. Except that, in two of their three Game 3s last year, they scored less than 100, and the third went to overtime. In the last two postseasons, the Celtics are 8-8 under Brad Stevens against a total of 100.

With Indiana’s typically stout defense, the under seems tempting, but Kyrie Irving’s presence messes that up. This whole game screams stay away outside of that first-half number, and I’m not even crazy about that. – Matt Moore


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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