NBA Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Game 1 of Pacers vs Celtics (Tuesday, May 21)

NBA Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Game 1 of Pacers vs Celtics (Tuesday, May 21) article feature image
Credit:

Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers during the third quarter at the TD Garden. (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

What a time, what a time. Time flies when you're having fun because look at us already arriving at Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After eliminating the New York Knicks in a Game 7 on Sunday, the Indiana Pacers make their way to Boston to take on their biggest challenge yet in the NBA Playoffs: The top-seeded Celtics.

Do the Pacers have enough shock value left over from Sunday to stun the C's? Or do the well-rested Celtics put away Indy off the rip as they welcome them to TD Garden? It's a matchup that you won't want to miss as it all goes down on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.

From targeting the total to a few player props, our experts came prepared to give you exactly what you need heading into the start of the ECF series. Take a look at our NBA best bets for Tuesday, May 21.


NBA Best Bets Today | Tuesday, May 21

GameTime (ET)Pick
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NBA Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Pacers vs. Celtics

Tuesday, May 21
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Jayson Tatum over 7.5 1Q Points

By Joe Dellera

The Celtics host the Pacers on Tuesday night for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. One player that should continue to excel in this matchup is Jayson Tatum.

Tatum has been impacted significantly by the absence of Kristaps Porzingis who is expected to miss the first two games of the Conference Finals. While there is an impact in statistical outputs there is a greater impact to the rotations. Tatum has played the entire 1Q as part of his rotation without Porzingis.

His 1Q points line has continually been set at 7.5. He has exceeded that number in 11/12 games this season and just missed it with 5 in Game 5 against the Cavaliers. He averages 11.8 points in the 1Q and has torched Indiana this season. On the season he has 30+ points in every game and is averaging 32.5 ppg. This should translate to the 1Q without Porzingis and I'll be grabbing Tatum to exceed 7.5 1Q points in Game 1.

Pick: Jayson Tatum over 7.5 1Q Points



Pacers vs. Celtics

Tuesday, May 21
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Under 222

By Andrew O'Connor-Watts

It doesn’t always feel good taking an under with this Pacers team given their ability to put up points on offense and just as easily give them up on the other end–but there are a few reasons to like the under here. The Pacers like to get out and run, but this is a good defensive matchup for Boston, who give up the second-fewest transition opportunities of any team in the playoffs or regular season, per Cleaning the Glass.

They’re also have a massive rest advantage on Indiana who are just two days removed from a Game 7 against the Knicks. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Pacers come out sluggish and the Boston defense locked in. In Game 1, when the total opens and closes 218 or higher, the under is 33-23 (58.9 percent hit rate) for a 14.5 percent ROI.

Based on my projections, I see value on the under down to 221.

Pick: Under 222



Pacers vs. Celtics

Tuesday, May 21
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Jaylen Brown over 30.5 PR

By Joe Dellera

Both of the Jays have been excellent against the Pacers on the season.

While Brown gets plenty of flak for struggling to dribble with his left hand, this is an incredibly exploitable matchup for him. Brown has that downhill mentality and is a relentless pursuer of the rim.

On the season he sees a spike without Porzingis and averages 24.7 ppg without him compared to 22.3 with him. Plus, this matchup against the Pacers has been favorable for him.

Brown is averaging 28.4 ppg and 6.2 rpg in 5 games against Indiana this season. One game was without Tatum and he dropped 40 points on the Pacers but he has consistently dominated in this matchup.

He could go over this line with just points, but given the rebounding upside against Indiana without Porzingis, I like the combo prop. I’ll back brown to exceed 30.5 PR.

Pick: Jaylen Brown over 30.5 PR



Pacers vs. Celtics

Tuesday, May 21
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Jayson Tatum under 25.5 points/Celtics -10

By Maltman

The Celtics last two series started the same way: they came out and hit a lot of shots early, jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back. Jayson Tatum didn't have to do too much in either of those games. Again, the Celtics are coming off of an extended rest while Indiana is coming off a game 7, and we know teams struggle in this spot. Tatum hasn't been shooting as much and has been deferring a lot these playoffs, and I expect he will in a game that could get out of hand.

I thought this trend was new to this playoffs (both Game 1's), but Tatum has actually scored 25 or fewer and the Celtics have won by 11 or more in 4 of their last 6 game 1s. I like our chances here on long odds for something that keeps happening.

Betting .25u on Tatum under 25.5 points/Celtics -10 at +468 on FanDuel (would bet down to +400).

Pick: Jayson Tatum under 25.5 points/Celtics -10



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