The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers are set to kick off their best of seven series with a clash on Sunday afternoon. Boston and Indiana were both battling for the number 4 seed all season long, but the Celtics were able to move past them to earn home court advantage in this series. The Celtics took three out of four games from the Pacers during the regular season.
The Celtics closed out the regular season on a high-note, winning four of their last five games to earn the number four seed. Boston was supposed to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, but they had an up-and-down regular season. The Pacers went just 3-5 during the regular season, and lost home court advantage. Indiana might not have any true stars, but they are a terrific team. The Boston Celtics are -7.0 point favorites in game 1.
Pacers Must Win With Defense
If the Indiana Pacers are going to knock off the Celtics in this series then they are going to have to do it with their defense. The Pacers were the best defensive team during the regular season, allowing just 104.7 points per game. Center Myles Turner led the NBA this season with 2.7 blocks per game, and will do his best to keep the Celtics from scoring at the rim. Point guard Darren Collison will need to slow down Kyrie Irving.
The Pacers have been playing without their best player, Victor Oladipo, for most of the season, and their offense has suffered. The Pacers are scoring just 108.0 points per game, and they don’t have anyone to make the big shots. Bojan Bogdanovic has stepped up to average 18.0 points per game, and he can really shoot. Turner and Domantas Sabonis will need to provide some interior scoring for the Pacers.
Irving, Tatum Leading Celtics
Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum will need to be great if the Celtics are going to win this series. Irving leads the team with 23.8 points and 6.9 assists per game, and will have the ball in his hands if the game gets tight. Tatum was the star during last year’s playoff run for the Celtics and is averaging 15.7 points per game. The Celtics have plenty of firepower, but they need their stars to shine.
The Boston Celtics took a step back on defense this season, and allowed more than 112 points per game during the regular season. Boston will also be playing this series without Marcus Smart who is their best perimeter defender. The Celtics do average close to 9 steals per game, and they will put some pressure on the Indiana guards. Boston can’t defend as well as the Pacers, but they can get stops when needed.
Boston Takes Game 1
This series could be one of the best of the entire first round, and all of these games will be competitive. The Pacers defense is good enough to slow anyone down, but they just don’t score enough to win on the road. Look for the Celtics to get off to a good start with a huge victory in game one. Bet the Boston Celtics -7.0 over the Indiana Pacers.