Boston (51-33 SU & 40-42 ATS) at Indiana (48-36 SU & 40-43 ATS)
Friday, 8:30 PM EST, TNT
Free NBA Pick: OVER 1H
Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
Indiana is faced with a must-win Game 3 on Friday, so even though they will definitely play at least one more time after today, their chances of winning the series go out the window if they lose. Will the favorites show up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, or will the C’s take a commanding 3-0 series lead?
Pacers’ Home Court Advantage
Some NBA teams have little trouble playing on the road and only get a small boost when they return home. Some, like the Pacers, are terrible on the road, but they are very good at home.
The Pacers owned the league’s best home defense during the regular season, allowing just 102.4 points per 100 possessions.
They also dropped nearly 110 points per 100 possessions on offense at home, so the struggles they have had in this series might go away temporarily for Game 3. They are much more desperate after the way they lost Games 1 and 2, so I think they come out aggressive and hot offensively.
The problem is I don’t trust them on the full game odds at all. Without Victor Oladipo, they don’t have a closer who can match, or even exceed the bucket ability of Kyrie Irving. The C’s have instant offense and the Pacers do not.
However, hyped up and desperate is a good combination to fuel that home defense, so as long as Indiana can hit some shots early, I think there is value in these first half odds.
The Sharp Pick
Indiana actually hasn’t had much trouble scoring on Boston in the first halves of Games 1 and 2. They even got to 50 points in the first two quarters of Game 2.
However, if you isolate their games played at home since the Oladipo injury, the home defense starts to crumble, but their offensively strangely got better.
Over their final 17 home games since the end of January, the Pacers gave up and average of 108.4 points per 100 possessions in the first half. However, their first half scoring improved to 112.9 points per 100 possessions over those final 17 at the Fieldhouse.
This could make the first half total of 99 a very inviting bet. I do think Indiana will play solid first half defense, but not enough to keep Irving and company far from, or even below 50 points.
Combine that with the Pacers’ potential to score well into the 50s during the first half and the over is where I’m putting my money on Friday.
First Half Score Prediction: Celtics 49 – Pacers 52