Jordan’s NBA Picks: 64-43
Boston (52-33 SU & 41-42 ATS) at Indiana (48-37 SU & 40-44 ATS)
Free NBA Pick: Pacers 1H ML
Recommended Sportsbook: 5Dimes
Even though the Pacers have played pretty poorly overall in their first three playoff games, their stumbles seem to always happen in the second half. With a must-win game facing them at home on Sunday, could the C’s take their foot off the gas early and can the Pacers take advantage?
Tale Of Two Halves
The Pacers’ offense without Victor Oladipo has been pretty bad at times this season and nothing shows that more than their third quarter performances in this series. Indiana is only averaging 71 points per 100 possessions in the third quarter in the playoffs. For lack of a better term, that’s downright terrible.
However, that doesn’t mean the C’s are automatic in this game. In fact, it may be the opposite effect. The psychological advantage of playing with a 3-0 lead is probably a lot more relaxed than the mindset of having to play a game at home down 0-3.
The Pacers are a prideful fanbase and franchise. Getting swept without Oladipo isn’t the end of the world, but it might lead to some boos getting rained down in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Even the overly-religious state of Indiana might forget about today being Easter Sunday this afternoon. This team has disappointed in the playoffs every season for the last four or five years and this may be the last straw.
I think the players and coaching staff knows this, so I think the Pacers once again come out desperate in the first two quarters. What happens after that is a mystery, but I think Indiana will be ahead at the half.
The Sharp Pick
So far in the playoffs, Indiana has played very well in the first halves. They are averaging 107.6 points per 100 possessions in the first half, while only allowing Boston 102.8. We cashed a play on the first half over in Game 3, but with this being an afternoon start and a closeout game, I could see defense increasing for both teams.
The Celtics also might come out flat in this one. They have been carried by Kyrie Irving in this series and if it weren’t for him, it might be a completely different series. They also know that they can probably beat the Pacers a lot easier at home in a night game than in an early start time on the road and on a national holiday. We could see them come out sleepy and not aggressive, which will lead to Indiana getting an early lead.
As mentioned two days ago in our win in Game 3’s first half total, the Pacers have the best home defense in the league. They are going to need every bit of that defense Sunday afternoon if they want to be ahead at the half. I think their desperation and desire to not get booed at home will keep them leading at the half.
First Half Score Prediction: Celtics 48 – Pacers 49