Indiana Pacers vs Boston Celtics: Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds (12/21/22)

After an absolute clunker against the Orlando Magic, Jayson Tatum returns to give the Celtics offense a much-needed boost while in the midst of a losing stretch that has seen them dip below the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings. His first game back comes against the fiery Indiana Pacers who are coming off two narrow losses in a row. Who will get their season back on track with a win?

Indiana Pacers vs Boston Celtics Betting Odds

Oddsmakers heavily favor the Celtics in getting back on track, opening them up at -9.5. Even while dropping four of their last five, the Celtics are clearly one of the best teams in the East and will be making a deep playoff run should they remain healthy. They also get the scoring production of Jayson Tatum back into the lineup which will help stretch out the Pacers perimeter defense.

As for the total, points are expected to be scored in a flash on both ends as oddsmakers opened the total at 231.5. Bettors have been mixed about the number, only slightly nudging the number in both directions while firmly staying at 231.5 in most shops. The Pacers will want to play at a high tempo, making them susceptible to getting beat in transition with a weak defense while also trying to crack the elite Celtics defense.

Indiana Pacers vs Boston Celtics Prediction

While elite throughout most of this season, the Celtics defense has been horrifically inconsistent during their losing stretch and is a major reason why I will be on the over in this one. They have allowed opposing units to score at a high rate while their defensive efficiency has plummeted. They have been tinkering with rotations, an experiment that has not yet found a successful answer.

This is also expected to be a track meet, giving us a prime opportunity for high quality looks at the rim that translates to points being scored in a flash. The Celtics rank slightly above average in tempo while the Pacers are one of the fastest moving units in the league. With playmakers running the show and taking advantage of the discombobulated Celtics defense, the Pacers are more than capable of maintaining scoring pace.

One of the key metrics to watch will be if Jayson Tatum can shake off any immediate “rust” after a one game absence. He has been quietly putting together an MVP type season and is the main catalyst of the Celtics offensive success. The offense fell apart without him in their last game, failing to score over 100 points.

Betting Trends

  • Over is 5-0 in Pacers last five against teams with a winning record
  • Over is 10-2 in Celtics last 12 home games
  • Over is 13-3 in Celtics last 16 home games against a team with a losing record

Key Matchups

Can Tyrese Haliburton maintain production against an elite defense?

Tyrese Haliburton vs Marcus Smart

The Pacers young star, or wannabe all-star as the Knicks commentator would put it, has been one of the few bright spots for the Pacers future. He has been a dominant force as the primary ball handler, averaging 19.5 points per game and 10.7 assists. 

The Pacers offensive success is directly correlated to Haliburton’s as he gets everyone involved and forces defenses to scramble with his elite vision and facilitation. This has especially helped Buddy Hield’s shooting, giving him more open looks to develop him into a consistent lethal weapon from deep.

He is in for a challenge this time around, most likely picking up elite defenseman Marcus Smart should he be good to go. If Halburton can get out in transition and force Smart into chasing him rather than half court sets, then the Pacers should have no issue getting the offense flowing again.

Verdict

With the Celtics defense reeling and the Pacers wanting to turn this into a track meet for high scoring opportunities, take the over in what will be a thrilling eastern matchup.

Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup

PG: Tyrese Haliburton
SG: Buddy Hield
SF: Bennedict Mathurin
PF: Jalen Smith
C: Myles Turner

Boston Celtics Starting Lineups

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford

Key Injuries

Indiana Pacers Injuries: Kendall Brown (O), Daniel Theis (O)

Boston Celtics Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (O), Marcus Smart (Q), Grant Williams (P)

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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