The Boston Celtics (28-7) battle the Indiana Pacers (20-15) this Monday (1/8/24). Get Celtics vs. Pacers moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers Prediction
Boston is outscoring opponents by 21.8 points per 100 possessions during the first quarter, which effortlessly leads the league (via NBA.com). Indiana, on the other hand, is being outscored by 1.5 points per 100 possessions – 20th in the NBA. Injuries shift the game context, but it’s worth noting these trends.
Jayson Tatum will miss the game for Boston, but their starting lineup remains extremely formidable. Jrue Holiday and Derrick White are disruptive perimeter defenders that can slow down Tyrese Haliburton; they held him to 17 points on 5/17 shooting on Saturday. The Celtics often picked up Haliburton early and blitzed him in order to force someone else to beat them, and it worked to perfection. Indiana had their lowest scoring total of the season against Boston two days ago.
The Pacers love to attack the rim in transition and via cuts, as well as deploy a two-big lineup featuring Jalen Smith and Myles Turner. However, Porzingis is an exceptional defender that ranks 12th in block percentage and 5th in rim points saved per 75 possessions (via Basketball Index). Tatum’s injury also pushes Al Horford into the starting lineup, so Boston can counter Indiana with two bigs of their own on the court. Defensively, it’s likely that the Celtics give the Pacers fits.
On the other end, Indiana sits 26th in Defensive Rating and easily allows the most field goal attempts within eight feet of the basket. Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis should feast inside the paint, especially with the amount of spacing that Boston brings. Jalen Smith and Myles Turner will find it difficult to constantly defend on the perimeter where the Celtics boast stretch centers too.
Finally, Boston’s guards love to attack mismatches and even initiate post ups on smaller guards. Holiday and White will have a field day against Haliburton and Hield – a terrible defensive backcourt.
Overall, the Celtics should still command the first quarter despite Tatum’s absence. The Pacers will gain ground against Boston’s extremely depleted bench, so taking the first quarter spread instead of the traditional spread is the wiser play.
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers Prediction: 1st Quarter Celtics -0.5 (-112 DK)
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Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers Best Odds
Despite Tatum’s injury, the Celtics are 2.5 point favorites. Boston is only 7-9-2 against the spread on the road, and Indiana owns an 11-8 record against the spread at home. The Pacers need to win this game about 44 percent of the time for their +130 moneyline to be profitable in the long run.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers Injuries
Jayson Tatum and Sam Hauser are both out for Boston, which is devastating. Meanwhile, Bruce Brown, Andrew Nembhard, and Isaiah Jackson hold questionable tags. If all three can suit up, then the Pacers own a monstrous depth advantage.
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers Key Matchups
Tyrese Haliburton & Buddy Hield’s 3PT Shooting
The Celtics surrender the most above the break three-point attempts per game with many of them classified as open or wide open. Haliburton and Hield combine for a whopping 14.3 attempts per game and 37.7 3PT% from this area of the court. It’s imperative that Indiana knocks down three-pointers here because it will be difficult for them to get to the rim unscathed.
The Celtics rank first in opponent free throw attempt rate, while the Pacers are a lowly 28th. Free throws inherently have a massive expected points per possession and simultaneously can force opponents into foul trouble, so this area is a crucial X Factor. If both fouling trends continue, then Boston’s offense likely dominates to the extreme and makes it hyper-difficult for Indiana to keep pace.