Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Sunday's Early Tips

Game 4 - Celtics (-2 ½, 204) at Pacers – 1:00 PM EST – ABC
Boston leads series, 3-0

The Pacers entered the playoffs without their top scorer in Victor Oladipo and faced a team that was one victory away from the NBA Finals last season. However, Indiana led Boston at halftime in the series opener, held a double-digit advantage heading into the fourth quarter in Game 2, and erased an early 15-point deficit to own a halftime lead in Game 3 at home.

Unfortunately, the Pacers have nothing to show for those second half leads as Indiana sits in a 3-0 hole and needs to save its season with a victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday. Rewinding back to Friday’s Game 3, the Celtics jumped out to a seemingly commanding 40-25 first quarter cushion before the Pacers clawed back for a 61-59 halftime edge. Indiana put together its second horrible third quarter in three games by getting outscored, 21-12 as the Celtics held off the Pacers, 104-96 to cash as 2 ½-point underdogs.

Brad Stevens’ team put together a horrible 1-7 mark away from TD Garden in the 2018 postseason, but the Celtics knocked down 15 three-pointers, including four treys from Jaylen Brown, who led Boston with 23 points. Kyrie Irving scored 19 points, highlighted by several big baskets late to give the Celtics breathing room and their sixth consecutive win over the Pacers since losing at Indiana by one in November.

Dating back to 1993, the Pacers have been swept only once in the playoffs, which came two seasons ago against Cleveland in the opening round. Since the start of the 2017 postseason, road teams seeking a sweep in Game 4 own a solid 6-3 SU/ATS record, although Boston suffered one of those losses at Philadelphia in last season’s second round. NBA expert Tony Mejia checks in with his take on this pivotal Game 4 for the Pacers, “Indiana has had an opportunity to win every game in this series if it had just made plays in the fourth quarter but has been unable to make big shots when it has had to have them most. We’ll see if the Pacers are able to respond with the pressure essentially off of them, but if you believe they’ll play with pride to avoid being swept at home, the high-side may be the way to go.”

“The Pacers have only scored 105 points after halftime through the first three games, so you can expect Nate McMillan to utilize different personnel to try and find a better flow, likely employing more of Tyreke Evans and potentially utilizing guys like Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn more. We’ve yet to see an ‘over’ in this series, but I expect to see a game eclipse 200 points for the first time and consider that more likely than the Pacers forcing a return trip to Boston,” Mejia notes.

Game 4 – Warriors (-8 ½, 235 ½) at Clippers – 3:35 PM EST – ABC
Golden State leads series, 2-1
After the Clippers shocked the Warriors in Game 2 at Oracle Arena by erasing an insurmountable 31-point deficit, Golden State bounced back with a blowout in Los Angeles in Game 3. The two-time defending champions jumped out to a 17-point lead after one quarter as the Warriors cruised to a 132-105 victory to easily cash as 9 ½-point favorites and take back the series lead.

Kevin Durant torched the Clippers for 27 first half points as he finished with 38 points, while Stephen Curry shot an efficient 7-of-11 from the floor for 21 points. Golden State drilled 15 three-pointers, while limiting Los Angeles to 7-of-32 shooting from downtown. Only one Clippers’ starter finished in double-figures as Ivica Zubac posted 18 points and 15 rebounds, while three players off the L.A. bench put up at least 15 points in the loss.

The Clippers fell to 1-6 ATS the last seven games as the only cover came in the Game 2 miracle comeback in Oakland. Each of the past three losses at Staples Center as an underdog have come by 21, 32, and 27 points, which certainly doesn’t bode well to make this a competitive series.

Chris David of believes this series will be over in two games but this scheduling spot could bring out the best in the Clippers. He explained, “The hierarchy at the Staples Center has been clear-cut since it’s opened with the Lakers always receiving preferential treatment, then the NHL Kings and lastly the Clippers and I’m sure Steve Ballmer’s team has been bumped for ‘Disney on Ice’ or a ‘Scientology’ seminar over the years as well. With all that being said, Los Angeles is forced into playing many afternoon games at the venue and while the late-arriving crowds create empty seats at times, Doc Rivers' club has flourished in these spots this season.”

“The Clippers have played eight games at the Staples Center which started at 12:30 p.m. PT this season and they went 7-1 both straight up and against the spread. Five of the wins came by double digits and four matchups were against playoff teams. The offense averaged 120.5 PPG, which helped the ‘over’ go 5-2-1 and the lone loss came to Detroit, who received a monster effort from Blake Griffin as he stuck it to his former team. Golden State is clearly the more talented team and I expect them to be up 3-1 after Sunday’s result. However, it’s going to need a big effort and my top lean would be to the Clippers Team Total Over (113 ½) and I would also buy Los Angeles in the first quarter (+3) and first half (+5) in the day matinee as well.”

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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