Pacers vs. Celtics Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 Best Bet: Boston’s Defense Will Step Up 

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The best sportsbooks have released their NBA odds for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics.

I recommend investing in the Celtics for this matchup for your best bet.

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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 Friday’s Mavericks vs. Timberwolves game.

Top NBA Pick: Celtics -9 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Celtics -9 (-110)
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Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics

Thursday, May 23, 2024 – 08:00 PM ET at TD Garden

Boston Was Rusty 

Following its long layover after it eliminated Cleveland in five games, Boston was not close to its best in Game 1.

On offense, as part of their rhythm issues, the Celtics committed sundry foolish turnovers, many of which led to easy points in transition for the Pacers.

Moreover, the Celtics underperformed from behind the arc, converting threes at a rate of over six percent lower than their average at home.

But Boston was especially disappointing on defense.

The Celtics’ struggles on defense largely relate to typical Game 1 circumstances: they had to adjust to facing a new team, one that plays a style of offense that, particularly due to its focus on pace, differs starkly from the Miami and Cleveland offenses that Boston had faced in the last two rounds.


I like Boston’s defense to improve strongly because its adjustments from Game 1 will carry over to Game 2. The Celtics will limit Indiana’s top offensive weapons.

In Game 1, Myles Turner was one of three Pacers players to exceed 15 points – Turner scored 23.

But the Celtics limited his scoring potential by sticking Jayson Tatum onto him in order to preclude Turner from exploiting his original primary defender’s difficulty with accounting for him on the perimeter.

Tyrese Haliburton, moreover, was Indiana’s leading scorer and is someone whom Boston can contain.

Six-time All-Defensive Team member Jrue Holiday found success limiting his attack abilities by guarding him more aggressively.

Boston also made adjustments in its pick-and-roll defense that forced Haliburton to pass to a teammate who had to settle for a long two-point attempt.

Haliburton was able to buoy his point total by thriving from deep for a second straight game, but his success from behind the arc tends to decline after two great shooting performances.

Pascal Siakam is Indiana’s likeliest player to succeed, but he can’t do it all by himself, especially with Indiana’s bench already playing as well as it did in Game 1. 

Al Horford also has a good reputation as a rim protector, and his annually excellent defensive rating bears this out. So he will be able to offer Siakam more resistance at the basket.

Boston’s Offense 

The Celtics will look more in rhythm now that they’ve ended their long layover.

As evident in its defensive rating, Indiana has an awful defense overall.

Not that the Pacers had much success stopping Jalen Brunson, when they did, they were often taking advantage of Brunson’s smallness.

Guys like Aaron Nesmith, though, don’t have that length advantage over the 6-8 Tatum.

Tatum and Jaylen Brown will continue to have their way against Indiana’s porous defense.

Tatum and Brown are also surrounded by great shooters, who help the team be the top three-point shooting team in the NBA.

One of those efficient shooters is Derrick White who demonstrated his characteristic prowess as a facilitator by accumulating nine assists in Game 1.

Payton Pritchard is also very tough to guard and is someone who, after doing little in Game 1, is primed to get back to scoring in double digits.

The Situation  

Indiana’s Game 1 loss must feel like a gut punch after it had what would have been a crucial series-opening victory within its grasp.

The Pacers encountered a similar situation in their last series. They responded to their tough Game 1 loss in that series by failing to cover the spread in Game 2.

Even if Indiana responds maturely to its Game 1 disappointment, the main thing is that the Celtics will be locked in and will play with a chip on their shoulders after hearing people say that the Pacers should have won and that the Pacers choked.

In both Rounds 1 and 2, Boston lost Game 2, but those losses followed a blowout win in Game 1. The fact that Game 1 was close will benefit Boston in Game 2 from a psychological standpoint.


Even more important than Boston’s mentality is the fact that it figured out valuable adjustments, particularly in its pick-and-roll coverage.

The Celtics will also clean up their transition defense, now that they’ve experienced the Game 1 shock of facing a Pacers offense that differs from the Heat and Cavaliers offenses that they had faced ten times.

Their offense will thrive even more with better rhythm, with the long layover behind them, and more efficient shooting.

Most people think that Indiana will cover the spread in Game 2 because it was so close to doing so in Game 1. But the key point is actually that, numerous times throughout Game 1, Boston was very close to blowing the game open.

The factors discussed above will ensure that the Celtics win Game 2 by double digits.

NBA Pick: Celtics -9 (-110) at BetOnline

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Celtics -9 (-110)
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