NBA TV Preview: Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics

Roy Hibbert has to find an extra gear.
Roy Hibbert has to find an extra gear.

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics
Time: 7:35 PM ET
Spread: BOS -3.5
Total: 201

Betting odds c/o Bovada

The Boston Celtics enter a home matchup against the Indiana Pacers looking to solidify its grasp on a postseason bid. Boston sits at 33-41and welcomes one of its playoff rivals to the TD Garden.  The game will air on NBA TV for cable subscribers.

As 3.5 point favorites in live NBA lines over those visiting Indiana Pacers, coach Brad Stevens has to be in the consideration for the coach of the year award. Few expected Boston to do much, especially with Rajon Rondo having spent most of the season on the injured list, then being dealt essentially to build for the future. Thus, the Celtics are a playoff team amidst a playoff chase.

The total could make an interesting bet in this game, as touched on later; but for a full explanation of how to bet NBA odds, see our odds explained.

But so goes the Eastern Conference…The Pacers are 32-42 and are in limbo with Paul George. He’d spent the majority of the season on the injured list and is unsure if his presence would disrupt team chemistry, or give the Pacers a chance to prevail over a top seed in the event the team sneaks into the postseason.

Currently the Pacers are playing without two key backcourt performers in Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles. Both are day-to-day, but today should be the day considering the tough Boston backcourt that the Pacers will encounter. Rookie Marcus Smart and ultra-premier defender Avery Bradley are defensive juggernauts that can hamper even the most effective ball handlers.

George Hill is certainly capable of holding his own, but Bradley will likely draw the assignment of slowing down Hill. He’s averaged a team-best 16.2 points per game for the Pacers, while also seeing 28 minutes per game (no one on Indiana sees more than 28 per game). Hill is posting a PER of 21.7, though Pacers fans may still wish the team had held onto the first round draftee that landed him (Kawhi Leonard).

Even so, the Pacers wisely decided to hang onto power forward David West despite interest from several teams, including the Toronto Raptors. West is solid, reliable, and seldom misses from the baseline/ He’s averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but his leadership and experience greatly exceeds all numerical considerations.

Roy Hibbert’s does not. He’s struggled badly this season and is averaging 10.8 points and seven boards per game. Without George in the fold, more was expected of the 7’2” former Georgetown Hoya, but instead it has rendered 34-year-old Luis Scola far more vital in the rotation than otherwise anticipated.

Boston will look to get its scoring going behind the shot chucking 5’9” Isaiah Thomas. When the former Phoenix Sun is at his best, he’s lethal. During his tenure in Sacramento he proved his value as a key rotation player, notwithstanding he was taken with the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He’s averaged 16.1 points per game to go with 4.1 assists, while posting a 20.18 PER this season. Certainly, the Celtics have established the backcourt balance it wants with regard to both his scoring and the aforementioned defensive talents of both Bradley and Smart.

While Boston is just 3.5 point favorites in this game, the C’s have a number of assets that the Pacers don’t. What it lacks, however, is the veteran experience and mentality brought to the Pacers which are a much older team given the talents of West, Scola and Hill. Expect Indiana to look to control the pace of this game and strive to keep the total under 200 points. An ‘under’ on the total seems a reasonable proposition for bettors who have faith that the Celtics can force a lot of late-shot clock looks by the Pacers.

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