Pacers vs. Celtics NBA Odds & Picks: Fade Boston in Matchup Between Struggling Teams (Feb. 26)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: The Boston Celtics bench.
- The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers have both fallen on hard times of late.
- Nonetheless, the two teams are battling with a host of teams for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.
- Who has the edge on Friday night? Phillip Kall breaks it down.
Pacers vs. Celtics Odds
|Moneyline||+125 / -150|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.|
At 15-15, the Pacers currently hold the fourth-best record in the East. However, the pressure is still on as they are also just one game in front of the 10th seed. To keep their spot, they need to overcome their recent troubles as they have lost eight of their last 12 games.
One of those teams looking to steal Indiana’s playoff spot is the Boston Celtics. Boston’s 15-17 record falls far short of expectations for the season. Fortunately, the East playoff picture being so competitive means they still have time to turn things around. They have done little to help themselves recently, though, as they are 5-11 in their past 16 games.
A hard-fought battle lies ahead as both teams look to end their losing spells. Let’s dig deeper to see which team has the edge.
When the Pacers traded Victor Oladipo to the Rockets, an indirect affect was to the performances of players like Malcolm Brogdon. Prior to the trade, Brogdon looked unstoppable, averaging 23.5 points per game on 49.4% shooting. Since the deal, his numbers have plummeted, falling to 20.8 points per game on 42% shooting.
The fall likely comes from missing any alternative scoring options on the wings. Their next best non-interior scorers are Doug McDermott, Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday. Those names strike no fear into opponents and allow defenses to smother Brogdon, and the struggles have seen the Pacers drop into the bottom-10 in offensive rating, per NBA.com.
With their offense lacking the talent needed to succeed, the pressure lies on the defense. Indiana made this formula work each of the last two years, making the playoffs with top-six defenses but averages offenses. This makes their 12th-ranked defensive rating respectable, but still far from their standards.
Everything has gone wrong for the Celtics recent games. They rank 19th in both offensive and defensive rating during their last 16 games.
The one thing Boston has, compared to the other teams competing for seeds 4-8, is a true star player in Jayson Tatum. Tatum provides the automatic bail-out when the shot clock runs down because of his ability to create his own shot. Boston relies on this a little too much as evidenced by Tatum’s career-low field-goal percentage.
The extra pressure exists for Tatum thanks to the poor performance of Kemba Walker. This year, a blend of injuries and poor play have turned Walker into a liability. As an undersized point guard, Walker already cost Boston defensively late in high-leverage games. Now, his 37.5% shooting percentage also makes him too inefficient.
Injuries have left the Pacers shorthanded offensively and thus defensive reliant. Fortunately, Indiana built a defense-first culture over the past two years. While this year’s defense falls short of the standards previously set, it still plays at a top-12 level. Boston only has three active players averaging more than 10 points. The Pacers should be able to limit one of those players and make life much easier for their offense.
Unlike the Pacers, Boston displayed little competence on either side of the court recently. Tatum and Brown get little to no help from the supporting cast.
With both teams looking to end their respective slumps, this game may come down to who screws up less. The Pacers showing reliability, at least on one-end of the floor, makes them the safer bet in this case. Until Boston shows a more balanced offensive attack and improvements defensively, I will continue to fade them.
Pick: Pacers +4