Celtics vs. Pacers Odds & Picks: Bet Indiana Over Boston on Sunday
Brian Munoz/Getty Images. Pictured: Victor Oladipo.
- The Sunday NBA schedule continues into the night as the Indiana Pacers battle the Boston Celtics at 8 p.m. ET.
- Both teams are a reflection of one another, in a way, but which one can get it done on Sunday?
- Brandon Anderson think the Pacers are the correct choice, and he explains why in his betting analysis below.
Celtics vs. Pacers Odds
|Celtics Odds||-2 [BET NOW]|
|Pacers Odds||+2 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-131 / +110 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||221 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
We’ve got ourselves a good one here, with two teams that are, in many ways, a reflection of one another.
Boston gets all the hype, and it deserves it after three runs to the Eastern Conference Finals over the past four seasons. The Celtics said goodbye to Gordon Hayward this offseason but otherwise return most of the team you remember from another deep playoff run.
The Celtics opened the season with a big win over the Bucks thanks to a banked in 3 by Jayson Tatum in the final second but fell to 1-1 after Kyrie Irving returned to Boston with the Nets and curb-stomped his former team.
The Pacers, meanwhile, took a half to settle in against the Knicks in their opening game but found another level in the second half and won comfortably to give new coach Nate Bjorkgren his first professional win.
Indiana also looks similar to the team you remember from the bubble, though this time it’s also healthy and ready to go, with one of the more balanced starting fives in the league.
Both of these teams expect to make the playoffs in the East and will hope to win a series or more. Both could also contend for the East 2- or 3-seed. So, who picks up the win in a matchup of tough defensive teams?
I worry a lot about the Celtics this season, at least at the start of the year while Kemba Walker remains sidelined with injury. Without both Kemba and Hayward, the Celtics are very shorthanded.
This team relied heavily on its top six guys a year ago and is missing two of them right now. It’s also without a ton of shot creation, and as great as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are on the wing, there’s just not much other offense here.
Boston’s role players defend well, but there’s really no one else on this team that can go get a bucket unless you want to rely on Marcus Smart or Jeff Teague.
The defense will be good again. Boston’s big addition this offseason was Tristan Thompson, and I expect him to start with Daniel Theis and the duo to play big minutes against Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. This matchup does play into Boston’s hands a bit, to that end, with Indiana playing a bit bigger and slower.
But can the Celtics score enough? Boston is so reliant on Tatum and Brown right now. In the opener against Milwaukee, the C’s saw hot shooting from Tatum and Teague but still blew a huge fourth-quarter lead before stealing the win on a lucky Tatum shot.
When the shooting disappeared against Brooklyn on Christmas, the scoring did, too. Tatum and Brown are putting up numbers but taking a ton of shots to get there, and Tatum has yet to take a free throw this season. In the first game, only two other Celtics made more than a pair of field goals. Against Brooklyn, only Smart and the two star wings made more than three.
Boston misses Walker. Until he comes back, points will simply be hard to come by.
The Pacers came out a bit flat against the Knicks in the opener but pulled away to win with ease. Sabonis had a big game with 32 points, 13 boards, and five dimes before putting up a triple-double in Game No. 2, but the backcourt was the bigger development in the opener.
Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon combined for 43 points, and Brogdon looked especially good with 21 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. In the Pacers’ win over the Bulls on Saturday, Oladipo went 5-of-5 from beyond the arc as well.
Brogdon was a borderline All-Star for the first month of the season last year before injuries hampered the rest of his season, and Oladipo is finally mostly whole for the first time in a few seasons. I was very high on the Pacers entering the season because of the upside this team has with a healthy version of that duo, along with All-Star Sabonis, a bubble breakout from T.J. Warren, and a potential bounce-back year from Myles Turner.
There’s no superstar on this team, but the Pacers have four starters who can drop 25 any given night, and everyone on the team plays solid defense. Indiana is the sort of team people still think the Celtics are. They’re a balanced five-man unit that plays good defense and can beat opponents in a number of ways.
There’s one other key development I’m keeping my eye on early. The Pacers had a below-average offense last season in part because they had such a prehistoric offense that played like it was allergic to the 3-point line.
Indiana attempted 28.0 3s per game last year, dead last in the NBA. I wondered if that would change under Bjorkgren, and though it’s too soon to know for sure, Indiana did try 34 3-point shots in the opener. All the better that it won with ease despite hitting just eight (23.5%) of them.
If the Pacers learn that 3 is greater than 2 like the rest of the league, their offense will have a much higher ceiling.
I like the Pacers more than the Celtics at this juncture. I had the teams pretty even heading into the season — at least the regular-season versions — and I like Indiana’s offense better right now. It just has more balance and versatility.
I do expect this to be more of a grind-it-out, defensive game. Both teams ranked in the top six defensively last year, and both play big and a bit slower.
I would like the Pacers more if not for Boston’s traditionally strong 3-point defense up against a team trying to shoot more behind the arc, along with the fact that playing big masks some of Boston’s weaknesses right now. Even still, Boston currently has the worst defensive rating in the entire NBA, and I just don’t trust the Celtics to score enough.
I’d lean toward an under here, but don’t see much value at 219. These teams have averaged a 229.7 total so far.
In the end, I’m just going with what I’m seeing so far and trusting the team I think is better right now, and that’s the Pacers. I like Indiana at -3 and would play up to -4. Let’s hope some of these early trends keep up.
Pick: Pacers -3.