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Pacers vs. Celtics Game One Prediction: Can Indy Avoid a Sweep?

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published May 21, 2024
6 min read

The Indiana Pacers will start the Eastern Conference Finals on the road against the Boston Celtics when the two meet for Game One on Tuesday evening.

The Pacers arrived in the conference finals against the odds after a seven-game slugfest with the New York Knicks. Tyrese Haliburton broke out of a monthslong shooting slump and closed the series with 26 points on 6-12 three-point shooting, bringing him to 43.9 percent shooting from the perimeter for the series.

The Celtics, on the other hand, did exactly what they were expected to, taking down the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games each. They still have not been seriously tested in the playoffs and are a whopping -1100 to win the series.

Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite pick for Pacers vs. Celtics Game One in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Pacers vs. Celtics 2024 05 21 Game Preview

Pacers vs. Celtics Game One Betting Odds for Tuesday, May 21

Indiana is 51-42-3 (54.8 percent) against the spread and 16-13-1 (55.2 percent) ATS as a road underdog. They went 3-2 ATS against Boston during the regular season and are 7-6 ATS in the playoffs.

Boston is 47-40-5 (54 percent) ATS and 25-20-2 (55.6 percent) ATS as a home favorite. They covered in six of 10 playoff games, but only in one of their last four outings.

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Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Indiana Pacers +9.5 (-105) +340 Over 220.5 (-115)
Boston Celtics -9.5 (-115) -450 Under 220.5 (-105)

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Pacers vs. Celtics Game One Prediction

Indiana Pacers Preview

The Pacers were not expected to get this far. Their obvious defensive weaknesses combined with overall inexperience and a never-ending shooting slump by Haliburton made it appear as if they were capped by the second round, if not primed for a first-round exit.

While they were fortunate to play two teams, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Knicks, with several injured players, they still showed impressive signs. They increased their level of physicality, produced historic scoring nights, and adapted to their opponents, resulting in them becoming one of the final two teams in the East.

The Pacers’ M.O. is an elite, fast-paced offense. They managed a 121.7 offensive rating in the playoffs, which was even better than the ridiculous 120.5 they produced during the regular season.

Defensively, they went from allowing the fewest three-point attempts and makes per game during the regular season to ranking fourth and sixth among playoff teams. However, that was partly necessitated by the size and rebounding prowess of their early opponents, and it’s likely they get back to running the Celtics off of the three-point line.

Even still, Indy needs to be ready to fight on the boards. Boston leads the playoffs with a rebound rate of 55.3 percent, while they are ninth at 49.6 percent.

Haliburton needs to be at an All-NBA level for his team to have a chance in this game. He scored 15 or fewer points three times and went for 26+ three times in the last series, and his team needs him consistently looking to score.

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Boston Celtics Preview

One of the many narratives surrounding the Celtics is that they have an easy path to the Finals. While that is valid considering the path they could have faced, they also made it look even easier by going 8-2 with a net rating of +12.8, more than 150 percent better than the next-best team.

The C’s rank second in offensive and third in defensive rating in the playoffs to go with their league-leading rebound percentage. They still have room to grow on offense as well, as they shot 37.7 percent from deep compared to 38.8 percent during the regular season.  

Indy, for the record, leads the playoffs at 38.1 percent, but Boston made more threes per game than everyone.

The key to Boston’s ability to remain in cruise control is the team’s depth. Jayson Tatum was the third-best player for the first few weeks of the postseason, yet that didn’t affect their bottom line.

Al Horford was also called into the starting lineup after Kristaps Porzingis suffered a calf injury, and again, the team did not miss a beat. They will head into the Pacers series with Horford still starting in place of the injured Latvian big man.

It will be interesting to monitor how the Pacers choose to guard the Celtics. As we mentioned, we expect to see them hound the three-point line, but they need to stay out of rotation to make that work. That could turn this into an important series for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as downhill drivers of the basketball.

Keep an eye on Tatum in particular. After his sluggish start, he went four straight games scoring at least 25 points but still struggled to shoot the three and is at 28.1 percent from range for the playoffs.

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Pacers vs. Celtics Game One Betting Pick

Game One is Indy’s chance to set the tone for the series and to show that it means business. At the same time, it only just finished a seven-game bout with the Knicks, while the Celtics have been resting comfortably since last Wednesday night.

The Pacers need to keep up their physicality on defense, just further away from the basket. They also need to successfully shut down Boston’s long-range game and still keep a presence on the boards to really put themselves in the driver’s seat.

All in all, there is just too much for the Pacers to account for in Game One. We like the Celtics to start the series off by covering at home, where they are 41-6 in the postseason and regular season combined.

How to Watch Pacers vs. Celtics Game One

  • When: Tuesday, May 21 @ 8:00 p.m. ET

  • Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

  • TV: ESPN


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Grant Mitchell

Sports Betting Analyst, Content Specialist & On-Air Host

Online Sports Betting
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field. In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor in Sports Media and Analytics
Favourite Sportsbook: Caesars Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: FanDuel Casino
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