The injury bug has hit the Pacers again, yet we still think there's good value on their heads for Friday night. Check out preview of tonight's Eastern Conference battle inside.
At time of writing, the Pacers were favored by an even four points on the NBA odds. There were one or two sites that had 4.5 available for those wishing to take Boston as a dog and wanting the best possible number.
A total of 197.5 has been made public. We've got a clash in tempo here, as the Pacers are notoriously a slower-paced team that relies on its defense, whereas the Celtics have been pushing the pace like crazy this season. These different styles make us want to stay away from a total play.
The Pacers have gone 3-2 over their last five games ahead of this home date with the Celtics. In that span, they've beaten the Heat, Bucks and Jazz while losing to the Lakers and Warriors, with both of those defeats coming on the road. Indiana has been off since Wednesday's 117-102 defeat to a red-hot Golden State squad.
Against the Warriors, the Pacers were able to hang around in the first half, but ultimately they were unable to keep up offensively with the Splash Brothers, who combined for a whopping 61 points - Klay Thompson in particular was unstoppable, hitting six threes on his way to 40 points. For Indiana, Solomon Hill had 21 points and four boards, while David West came through with 16 points, seven boards and six dimes in 34 minutes of action.
Coming into Friday, the Pacers have a few injury concerns, as Roy Hibbert, Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Watson and Ian Mahinmi are all questionable. George Hill meanwhile has already been ruled. Dealing with injuries has been a common theme for head coach Frank Vogel this season, who has to be hating the luck he's had throughout the season. Vogel has yet to have his full rotation at his disposal, and of course the absence of star Paul George was a big blow in and of itself.
Having just ended a three-game losing streak with a great road win over Brooklyn, the Celtics now turn their attention to what's likely to be a shorthanded Pacers team. Boston is 12-21 on the year.
Will the Celtics let backers down tonight? They just wrapped up a great victory over the Nets, thanks in large part to the efforts of Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller. Bradley had a game-high 21 points and added four rebounds, while Zeller racked up 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Defensively is where Boston really stood out though, as they held Brooklyn to 40.5 percent shooting overall and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc.
It looks like Brad Stevens has settled on a starting five (Evan Turner, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller), but who knows how long that's going to last. That's one of the factors that scares us away from Boston - they have so many good, young players that you never really know who's going to step up (or fall flat on their face) on any given night. The Celtics are too unpredictable for my liking.
In short, we believe this number is simply too low, even with all the injuries. The Pacers haven't been god's gift to the NBA by any means this season, but they're still way better than the Celtics.
Boston is a young team, and while the Celtics do have talent, they're still making a ton of mistakes and have been very hard to trust handicapping wise.
Consequently, we feel good about adding Indiana as a short home favorite to our NBA picks for a busy Friday night in the association. Good luck!
NBA Pick: Indiana Pacers -4 at 5Dimes