Pacers vs. Celtics Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Best Bet: Indiana Matches Up Well Against Boston

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The best sportsbooks have released their NBA odds for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics.

I recommend investing in the Pacers for this matchup for your best bet. And if you’re looking for even more value picks, make sure to visit our YouTube channel.

For an additional NBA best bet from our expert:

And if you’re looking for even more value picks, make sure to visit our YouTube channel. Today, our expert has the best analysis on this game and Wednesday’s Mavericks vs. Timberwolves game.

NBA Pick: Pacers +10 (-108) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Pacers +10 (-108)
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Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 – 08:00 PM ET at TD Garden

One Bad Reason to Like Boston 

Celtics backers give bad arguments. Let’s address them so that you don’t get misled.

One bad reason to support Boston is that the Celtics have dominated Game 1s in this postseason.

First of all, a two-game data sample is meaningless. The Celtics crushed Miami and Cleveland in Game 1.

But they also owned both teams almost throughout the entirety of each series. 

So, it is not the case that the Celtics are especially reliable in Game 1. It is rather the case that the Celtics have faced competition that is well below them and that the Celtics have demonstrated their superiority to this competition in Game 1.

I will argue that Indiana is going to be a much tougher opponent for Boston than Cleveland and Miami were. My point is that the Pacers will show this toughness throughout the series.

A Second Bad Reason to Like Boston

Celtics backers are misguided when they argue that Boston matches up well against Indiana.

The argument is this: Celtics backers claim that Boston’s outlook is strong because it allows the fewest points per game in transition, which is meaningful because Indiana’s offense relies heavily on scoring in transition.

This argument is poor because, again, of the Celtics’ competition thus far. They faced two teams, Miami and Cleveland, that are relatively averse to scoring in transition.

Both the Heat and the Cavaliers ranked in the bottom half in transition play frequency in the regular season.

Neither of those teams approached Indiana’s scoring prowess in transition.

Indiana in Transition 

I dislike Boston’s matchup outlook tonight because the Celtics, when the Heat and Cavaliers – notwithstanding each team’s significant injury problems – initiated transition offense, proved very vulnerable.

Despite having faced injury-ridden offenses that are relatively averse to scoring in transition, Boston is allowing the fourth-most PPP (points per possession) against transition offense.

On the other hand, the Pacers are the best team at scoring in transition.

They will run even after the opponent makes a basket. They’ll use long passes, for example, to advance quickly. When they run, they are highly efficient.

By significant margins, they rank number one in both PPP and points per game in transition.

Indiana’s Half-Court Offense 

Against weaker Miami and Cleveland offenses, Boston could rely on hard closeouts to run opposing players off the three-point line.

But Indiana is more difficult to defend because, in addition to possessing excellent shooters, the Pacers are also efficient inside.

They rank eighth overall in three-point percentage and, of the remaining postseason teams, they make the most field goals per game within five feet of the basket.

The Pacers will have an advantage in the paint with the likes of Pascal Siakam facing a Boston defense that misses its top rim protector in starting center Kristaps Porzingis.

When Siakam joined the Pacers, he was their second-leading scorer in a five-point loss in Boston where the Pacers were unusually off from behind the arc.

As for the ball-screen game, Indiana saw and adjusted, with resounding success, to Milwaukee’s switch-heavy scheme and therefore looked prepared for Boston’s proclivity to switch on ball screens. 

Indiana’s Defense

The Pacers match up well against Boston because they want to take away the three-ball. Throughout the season, they’ve been the best team at limiting opposing three-point attempts.

They continue to thrive in the postseason at limiting opposing open and wide-open three-point attempts. Indiana’s focus on perimeter defense is important because Boston has relied heavily on making threes.

Of the postseason teams, the Celtics attempt the third-fewest shots within five feet of the basket, the third-fewest from the five-to-nine-foot range, and the list continues. Boston attempts the most threes per game.

Indiana’s defense is designed to take away the means of scoring that Boston is most comfortable relying on.


The Pacers will be maximally comfortable scoring the ball whether in transition, against Boston’s switching, or Boston’s hard closeouts.

Conversely, the Celtics will be uncomfortable on offense given Indiana’s focus on locking down the perimeter.

NBA Pick: Pacers +10 (-108) at BetOnline

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Pacers +10 (-108)
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