Feb. 26, 2021
The Boston Celtics might be in danger of missing out on the postseason for just the second time since they won the 2008 NBA Finals. Boston is two games below .500 heading into Friday night’s showdown with the Indiana Pacers.
The Celtics have lost three straight games coming into this tilt, and all those losses were to teams that are .500 or worse.
Pacers vs. Celtics Betting Resources
Betting Odds - Pacers vs. Celtics
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The Pacers will begin a four-game road trip on Friday when it meets the Celtics from TD Garden. (AP)
Pacers vs. Celtics Current Form-Last Game
These teams have already squared off twice this season. Indiana hosted Boston two times in three days back in late December with the teams splitting those games.
Domantas Sabonis put the Pacers ahead by a point with eight seconds left in the first game, and Jayson Tatum couldn’t connect on a potential game-winning three to give Indiana a 108-107 win. The Celtics got the better of the Pacers in the second game though with Boston outscoring Indiana 33-17 in the final frame for a 116-111 win.
Indiana looked like a potential contender at the start of the season. The Pacers got off to an 8-4 start, but the Victor Oladipo trade and a significant injury to T.J. Warren affected this team in a bad way. They went on to lose nine of their next 13 games before turning things around thanks to a break in the schedule starting two weeks ago.
They won three of four games in mid-February, beating up on lightweights Detroit and Minnesota in the process, and an overtime loss to Chicago was the only thing keeping the Pacers from a 4-0 run.
Unfortunately, the snowstorms in Texas led to Indiana’s games with Houston and San Antonio being postponed. The Pacers didn’t take the court for a week after their win over the Timberwolves, and Wednesday night’s game against Golden State showed they were a bit rusty. Indiana made less than a quarter of its three-point attempts in a 111-107 loss.
Boston has followed a similar path. The Celtics were 8-3 in mid-January, but the wheels have fallen off this team since that point. They are 7-14 over the last five weeks.
However, Boston continues to show it can play with the top teams in the NBA with wins over the Clippers, Nuggets, and Raptors, and they nearly knocked off the Lakers at home too.
The Celtics have lost three in a row and six of their last eight games over the last two weeks. Boston blew a 24-point second half lead against New Orleans on Sunday and closed out its three-game road trip with losses to Dallas and Atlanta.
Danilo Gallinari was too much for the Celtics on his own, as he knocked down a franchise record 10 treys for the Hawks in their 127-112 over the Celtics on Wednesday night.
Pacers vs. Celtics Head-to-Head
(SU-Straight Up, ATS - Against the Spread, OU - Over-Under)
Indiana Pacers Betting Outlook
Inside the Stats (2020-2021)
Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon have led the Pacers this season. Brogdon continues to prove that he is much more than a defensive stopper, leading Indiana with 21.7 PPG. However, he is not an efficient scorer as he is averaging just three trips to the charity stripe per game despite taking 18.5 shots a night.
Sabonis is a constant double-double threat averaging 21.5 PPG and 11.7 RPG. He has failed to make a triple in three of his last four games though. That hurts the potential of this offense as opponents need to respect Sabonis’ ability to stretch the floor in order to give Indiana’s other players some openings. Sabonis is an underrated passer, and he showed that with his recent triple-double in the win over Minnesota last Wednesday.
The role players for Indiana have had their moments this season. Myles Turner is helping spread the floor with almost half his shots coming from beyond the arc, and he is averaging 13.3 PPG.
Jeremy Lamb is sinking an absurd 50 percent of his threes since returning from a torn ACL, and Justin Holiday is knocking down 41.4 percent of his triples too.
Boston Celtics Betting Outlook
Inside the Stats (2020-2021)
Tatum leads the Celtics with 25.6 PPG. He hasn’t been as efficient as he was last year though, hitting a career-low 43.9 percent from the floor and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. Tatum is coming off one of his worst performances of the season as he went just 4-20 against Atlanta with a single rebound and a single assist in 32 minutes of action.
Jaylen Brown has been more efficient, making 49.7 percent of his field goals and 38.9 percent of his threes. However, he has been struggling recently too. He is hitting just 44.4 percent of his shots and 31.6 percent of his triples in February, and he is 5-24 from beyond the arc during Boston’s three-game losing streak.
Poor shooting is plaguing more than just Brown in the Celtics’ backcourt as Kemba Walker is having a rough year.
Walker is making a scant 37.5 percent of his field goals and under 35 percent of his threes this season, and he hasn’t been as effective as a passer. Head coach Brad Stevens gave Walker the night off on Wednesday, so Boston is hoping for a better performance on Friday night.
Boston ranks in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories. The Celtics aren’t moving the ball like they did in the past, ranking 28th in the NBA in assists, and this offense has become stagnant.
Pacers vs. Celtics Prediction
Indiana’s problems on the glass shouldn’t hurt this team too much on Friday night.
Boston has not been good on the boards as Tatum is not using his size as an advantage. That will play a major factor in the Pacers pulling off the upset in TD Garden.
Score Prediction: Pacers 113, Celtics 110