Celtics

Danny Ainge insists Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter were Celtics' 'Plan A' in free agency

Danny Ainge insists Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter were Celtics' 'Plan A' in free agency

When the NBA offseason began, few expected the Boston Celtics would be adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter in free agency later in the summer.

... Except Danny Ainge, apparently.

During an introductory press conference Wednesday at the Auerbach Center, Ainge said Walker and Kanter were the Celtics' top priority entering free agency.

"As we started planning for Plan A, our Plan A was Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said.

C's fans may be puzzled by Ainge's comments, considering Boston entered the offseason as a frontrunner to land long-time target Anthony Davis. But when Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on June 15 and the Celtics learned Kyrie Irving would leave Boston days before free agency began on June 30, Ainge and Co. were forced to pivot.

That turned their attention first to Walker, who Ainge said has been on his radar for years.

"I've been watching Kemba also since he was at UConn," Ainge said. "I fell in love with him at the Maui Classic in his junior year where I think the whole world realized how good he was then. But I was sitting there in the front row watching very closely and it was very exciting and just had great respect for him throughout his career."

The C's convinced Walker to leave the Charlotte Hornets by offering him a four-year, $141 million contract in free agency. Adding Kanter was a bit trickier, though, as Ainge insinuated Boston didn't have the cap space to pay Kanter his full value.

"We needed a big guy and Enes was on the board, and we were worried someone was going to pay him a lot more money than we had available," Ainge said. "And he probably could have gotten more money in other places. But we're grateful he chose us."

Kanter indeed picked the C's anyway, inking a reported two-year contract worth $10 million to complete Boston's post-Davis, post-Kyrie "Plan A."

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Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

The Boston Celtics are back to their winning ways ... and so are we.

The Celtics' current hot streak -- four consecutive wins -- coincides with our good luck on the betting front, where we're 4-0 picking the moneyline and point spread in Boston's last two games.

The C's face a tough test Wednesday night when they roll into Bankers Life Fieldhouse to play the Indiana Pacers, who are in the Eastern Conference hunt at 15-9.

How will Wednesday's game shake out? Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Pacers, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. ET

Moneyline: Gordon Hayward showed virtually no rust in his return Monday night as the Celtics rolled to their sixth win in seven games. The Pacers have been inconsistent over the last two weeks, so I think Boston's talent wins out here. Take the Celtics (-120).

Point Spread: Indiana is a pedestrian 5-5-2 against the spread at home this season. The Celtics have won seven of their last games in Indiana and are well-rested after whupping the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers will put up a fight, but Celtics (-1) is the smart bet here.

Point Total: The Celtics boast the NBA's second-best defense. The Pacers are sixth. The total has gone under in nine of Boston's last 12 games and four of Indiana's last five games. Sign me up for the UNDER on the 209.5 point total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 32-21-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors (+2.5): If I'm on the Raptors, I really want to beat Kawhi Leonard in his return to Toronto. The Clippers are 5-6 on the road this season, and it should be quite the hostile environment Wednesday. I'm backing the home team.

Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls (-5): The Hawks are coming off a brutal overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday (Trae Young called game ... for the wrong team) and haven't won the second leg of a back-to-back yet this season. Chalk this up as a scheduled loss.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 20-15-1

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

The last time the Celtics faced the Pacers, Boston swept Indiana out of the playoffs with a four-game sweep, with each win coming by 10 points or fewer.

But this year's Pacers club is much different than last year's. Three of Indiana's top four scorers this season — Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, and Jeremy Lamb — are in their first seasons with the Pacers.

Luckily for the C's, they won't have to contend with Victor Oladipo, who is currently on a rehab assignment in the G-League.

The Celtics are currently riding a four-game win streak and just got Gordon Hayward back in the lineup, while the Pacers are coming off an 11-point loss in Paul George's first game back to Indianapolis since joining the Clippers.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 7 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app

HOW TO WATCH

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 6 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, Chris Forsberg, Tom Haberstroh, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

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