Boston has hit the skids. The Celtics have dropped four of their last five games as they limp into Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a matchup against the surging Pacers, who have won six of seven. Indiana returns home after a 2-1 road trip that ended with two straight victories over the Mavericks and Bulls.
Boston is still in shock after Sunday’s 105-104 home loss to the Thunder, in which Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder stole the lead in the final minute. Expect the Celtics to come out with an extra effort on the defensive end to try and salvage some momentum. The first-quarter Under is 20-11 for the Pacers at home this season.
Prediction: Under 51.5 First Quarter
Gordon Hayward scored 24 points in Sunday’s loss against OKC, his highest output since February 21 against the Timberwolves. The Celtics will continue to be without Jaylen Brown, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. With Brown sidelined and Jayson Tatum suddenly struggling, Hayward and Kemba Walker will be key for Boston.
Walker had 44 points in a losing effort the last time these teams played. Despite Boston’s recent injuries and struggles, it is still 9-1 ATS in the first half over the last 10 games. Expect an inspired effort out of Brad Stevens’ squad in the opening half.
Prediction: Celtics First Half Moneyline (-124)
Domantas Sabonis broke a franchise record with his 50th double-double of the season after putting up 20 points and 17 rebounds in Sundays win over Dallas. The All-Star forward continues to impress and has recorded a double-double in nine straight games. Boston allowed 56 rebounds in Sunday’s loss against Oklahoma City and if the Celtics continue to struggle from the floor, there will be plenty of opportunities for the "Dominator" to clean up the glass.
Prediction: Domantas Sabonis Over 12.5 Rebounds (-102)
Points should be at a premium in this matchup as both teams rank inside the Top 5 in scoring defense, with Boston allowing the fewest points per game at 106.8. The Celtics are also second in 3-point defense (34.1 percent) and fourth in overall field goal defense (44.1 percent).
The Celtics shot nearly 50 percent from the floor in the last matchup between these two teams as the game sailed over the total in a 122-117 home victory for Indiana. The Pacers lived at the free-throw line in that matchup, making 30 of 36 from the charity stripe. Considering Indiana is last in the NBA with just 19.3 free-throw attempts per game, it's a safe bet that the Pacers won't get as many chances at the line this time around, which should significantly affect the total.
Prediction: Under 214.5
Tatum is slumping. After scoring at least 28 points in seven straight outings, the All-Star forward has been held to under 20 in consecutive games - both of which were Boston losses. Tatum is shooting just 15 of 41 from the floor during this stretch.
Despite their recent slide, the Celtics still opened as favorites in this game and the line immediately moved in their direction, which is a very strong indication of who the oddsmakers and sharp bettors believe is the better team. Boston’s losing skid is a bit of a mystery as all four losses have come at home. Boston is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games and we expect that trend to continue as we get to back one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference at a discounted price.
Prediction: Celtics -2