NBA Best Bets Of The Day (5/23)


Welcome to Hoops with Noops! Game 2 of an NBA playoff series can be a big pivot point or just another step in the direction we expected.

It’s the last chance for the home team, often the favorite to win the series, to hold serve and preserve their homecourt advantage. For them, Game 2 can be scary because a loss means they head to their opponent’s arena after having given up their chance to win the series at home. For the underdog, Game 2 is almost a free roll. They are expected to lose, but if they win, the series changes in a very meaningful way. The underdog can steal homecourt advantage and the momentum before hosting Game 3 in their stadium.

Will the Celtics win as big favorites or lose a third consecutive Game 2 in Boston? Are the Pacers ready to steal a win before heading back to Indiana?

A lot is on the line, so let’s go through the game, see how the odds have changed game over game, and try to find some value in the betting markets.

NBA Best Bets for Thursday

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics

Current Line – Celtics -9, 224.5
My Projection – Celtics 119, Pacers 109
Key Injuries – Kristaps Porzingis is out.

With 8.1 seconds left in Game 1, the Pacers held a three-point lead as the Celtics prepared to inbound the ball. Jaylen Brown got the ball in the corner with Pascal Siakam on him, almost dropped it, recovered and made a three to send the game into overtime. The Celtics won the extra period and game by five points, as a great opportunity to upset the favorite slipped through the fingers of the Pacers. Indiana shot 53% from the field and had control over the game with a minute left. Boston shot the ball worse, but won the possession battle by 11, attempted 20 more free throws, and made two more three-pointers despite making six shots less overall. Should the Pacers feel heartened knowing they had a real shot to beat a team that is a big favorite to beat them? Or will the Pacers be depressed having seen such a good chance to win get away from them? It’s hard to know, and I guess we’ll see how they respond, but regardless of Game 1, I still expect the Celtics to win this series in rather comfortable fashion.

Boston closed Game 1 as 10-point favorites and the total was 223. Oddsmakers have moved the spread one point, which isn’t a big move, but I think a reaction to some late action on Indiana just before Game 1 tipped. The Pacers have actually taken money throughout the morning, and by the time you read this, the spread might be 8/8.5. My projections are close to market and I don’t see much an edge in betting either side of the spread. If you are inclined to bet the spread, let me suggest that you play some alternate lines instead of laying -110 with the base spread. Both of these teams shoot a lot of three-pointers and play at a fast pace. That means there will be more variance in the outcomes of these games. Instead of playing the Celtics -9, look for -11 or even -15. Don’t take the Pacers +9, grab +6 or just play the moneyline. I think the current spread of -9 is a perfectly fine line, but I also think the market hasn’t done a good job adjusting prices for those bettors looking to sell. Again, I’m not betting on either team. I just want to make sure you make the best bet possible if you are betting on either team.

I don’t see value in the spread, but I again think the total is set too low. Looking at the Game 1 odds, the market was expecting the pace to be around 92 possessions and it was actually around 100. Of course, overtime is always good for over bettors, but that total for Game 1 had already gone over before the end of the fourth quarter. Books adjusted the total up almost two points, which is the right move, but I think the adjustment was too small. I show an edge on the full game over, but I’d rather play the over in the first half. Playoff games can change drastically at halftime depending on who is winning and by how much. Teams adjust during the break and games can speed up or slow down changing the dynamics of the game entirely. Both of these teams have played fast in the 1st half and faster in that half than in the second half. With that in mind, I’m going to bet over 116. We can capture the value of the pace being faster than expected without having to worry about what happens at halftime.


Indiana Pacers/Boston Celtics First Half Over 116 (-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)

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