NBA Postseason Best Bets (5/21)


Welcome to Hoops with Noops! It’s time for the NBA Conference Finals, and we start with the Eastern Conference Finals, tipping off Tuesday. Of course, check out my preview of the Western Conference Finals between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks, but we’re here to talk about the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

The Celtics have been the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and NBA Championship all season, they’ve become bigger favorites throughout the season, and are currently priced at 60%-plus odds to win the title. Boston had an average spread of -10.8 in the first two rounds.

Things don’t look great for Indiana, but we still have to play the games and thankfully, the sportsbooks invented things like spreads, totals and props to keep us interested. Let’s break down the matchup, see how the market has priced things, and try to find value to bet.

NBA Best Bets for Tuesday

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics

Current Line – Celtics -10, 221.5
My Projection – Celtics 116, Pacers 108
Key Injuries – Kristaps Porzingis is out.

If you haven’t already, check out my full preview of this series. Long story short, the Celtics and Pacers are very similar in a lot of ways and Boston is a better version of Indiana. Tyrese Haliburton could be the best guard in the series but that will be difficult because he’ll have Derrick White or Jrue Holiday guarding him. Pascal Siakam will challenge Jayson Tatum, but Tatum is the better player. Aaron Nesmith will be able to bother Jaylen Brown, but that is ultimately another mismatch in favor of the Celtics. Myles Turner can be the best center for as long as Kristaps Porzingis is out which is the only position matchup where the Pacers have an edge. Indiana’s bench is a little better than Boston’s but that’s less of an advantage with each team playing their starters more minutes. Barring some serious and surprising injuries or a barrage of three pointers from the Pacers, the Celtics should win games in this serious comfortably.

These teams played each other in four regular season games and one In-Season Tournament game. Normally, that would be a nice sample for us to review. Unfortunately, all five games were before the end of January and only one involved Pascal Siakam. Looking back at the previous series, the Celtics were 13-point favorites over the Cleveland Cavaliers without Jarrett Allen in Games 1 and 2. The market has set tonight’s spread at 10 which is a three-point adjustment from those games against Cleveland. I think that might be a point or so too small of a change but am still generally in line with how the books have priced the spread in this series. It’s a matchup that is going to involve a lot of three-point shot attempts which means there should be a lot of variance. For bettors, that means we should be looking to sell points if we’re playing spreads. Play the Celtics -12 or -15 instead of -10. Bet the Pacers +8 or +5 instead of +10. There will be value in selling points in this series. Unfortunately, I don’t see value in either side in this game.

Luckily, I do see some value to attack in the markets for totals. The current full game total is set at 221.5 and I make it 224. That’s almost a big enough edge to bet the over for the game, but I see more value in attacking the first half total. Playoff games can change drastically at halftime. Teams go into the break knowing they have a lead, are down, or are in a close game and they adjust. A team with a big lead at half will often try to slow the game down to limit the amount of changes their opponent has to catch up to them. At the same time, teams losing will often try to push pace. Games that are close get very slow late as teams milk the shot clock but things could get dicey if one team starts to foul late. There is just too much uncertainty in the second half of games to bet anything tied to it right now. The first two quarters of games often have more flow and for these teams, a faster pace. Both Boston and Indiana play at a faster pace in the first half than they do in the second. All of this adds up to a first half over bet for me.


Indiana Pacers/Boston Celtics First Half Over 113 (-108, DraftKings Sportsbook)

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