Pacers vs Celtics Prediction, Picks, Odds for Tonight’s NBA Playoff Game

The Pacers should be proud of what they've accomplished this season, but our NBA picks think the Celtics are set to give them a rude awakening in Game 1.

Douglas Farmer - Betting Analyst at Covers
Douglas Farmer • Betting Analyst
May 21, 2024 • 16:51 ET • 4 min read
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This article contains predictions for an old game!

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Congratulations to the Indiana Pacers. They got through a seven-game series in the Mecca of basketball, and their reward is being 10-point underdogs in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics.

My Pacers vs. Celtics prediction is trusting the C's and taking them to cover the first-half spread tonight against Indiana. Find out why I'm opting to bet on just the first 24 minutes in my NBA picks for this May 21 tilt. And don't forget to check out Jon Metler's Pacers vs Celtics props for Game 1.

Pacers vs Celtics prediction

My best bet
Celtics first half -6 (-110 at DraftKings)

My analysis
The Boston Celtics are only 6-4 against the spread in the first half of these playoffs. That may strike you as concerning when this is today’s best bet, but let’s focus on how resoundingly the C's have covered the spread when doing so.

In five of those six occasions, Boston was covering the full-game spread by halftime. In the sixth, it led by just 10 when favored by 12.5 for the game. Two of the ATS losses have been by less than a bucket, while the other two were the absurd Game 2s by both the Heat and the Cavaliers.

The Celtics led by 15 and by 10 at halftime in their pair of Game 1s, respectively, this postseason.

The Indiana Pacers are better than Miami and Cleveland, certainly better than their depleted versions once we saw in these playoffs. That is part of why the Pacers are shorter underdogs in Game 1 than either of them were (+14.5 and +12.5, respectively), but Indiana is not distinctly better.

Asking Boston to lead by six at the break tonight is not asking much. While only 6-4 ATS in first halves thus far this postseason, the Celtics have led by at least six in seven of them, with one of the exceptions missing by a single point. The remaining two games being those Game 2 anomalies.

Now Boston has a four-day rest advantage over Indiana, with this being the Pacers’ eighth game in 16 days. Those kinds of stretches don't get the headlines that back-to-backs do, but they wear out teams. Furthermore, six of those eight off days included travel. Meanwhile, the Celtics have played one game in the last eight days and haven't traveled in a week.

Boston should cruise through the first 24 tonight. The whole game feels likely, for that matter, but a backdoor cover cannot be ruled out with an offense like Indiana’s.

Pacers vs Celtics same-game parlay (SGP)

Celtics first half -6

Tyrese Haliburton Under 8.5 assists

Haliburton Over 3.5 threes

Tyrese Haliburton has shifted his game in the playoffs. After taking 3-pointers on 51% of his shots in the regular season, that has spiked to 63.4% through the first two rounds — Tpulling him away from the drives that lead to many of his assists.

It has also, obviously, raised how many threes he makes each night. After beginning the playoffs with terrible shooting — 5 of 22 from deep in the first three games — Haliburton has hit at least four threes in six of his last 10 games while making 40.8% of them.

For whatever reason, the All-Star point guard has forsaken the lane, and he's compensated for some of that loss with his shooting.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

Pacers vs Celtics odds

Pacers vs Celtics live odds

Get the latest Pacers vs Celtics NBA playoff odds for Game 1.

Pacers vs Celtics opening odds

  • Spread: Indiana +9.5 (-110) | Boston -9.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Indiana +325 | Boston -425
  • Over/Under: Over 222 (-110) | Under 222 (-110)

Pacers vs Celtics spread and Over/Under analysis

  • Once Indiana got by New York, it opened as a 9.5-point underdog in this Game 1, a number that rose to +10 by Monday morning and then to +10.5 on Tuesday morning.
  • The total opened at 221.5 and barely moved, toggling down to 220.5 for a bit of the Monday overnight before returning to 221.5 on Tuesday morning.
  • To underscore how facing the offensive-focused Pacers changes most of the expectations of a game, Boston’s 10 postseason games thus far have not had a pregame total higher than 212.5 and have averaged 206.9 points.

Pacers vs Celtics trend

The Celtics led at halftime in all five meetings with the Pacers this season, the closest margin being seven points and the average being 12.2. Find more NBA betting trends for Pacers vs. Celtics.

Pacers vs Celtics game info

Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Date: Tuesday, 5-21-2024
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET

Pacers vs Celtics latest injuries

Not intended for use in MA.
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