Indiana (+375) vs. Boston (-450)
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Regular Season Record: Boston 3-1 SU & 2-2 ATS
Can Pacers Do The Unthinkable?
As a Pacers season ticket holder, once Victor Oladipo went down with his season-ending quad rupture, I pretty much wrote them off from there. I advocated trading away some of their expiring assets and going the route no one in Indiana wanted to talk about.
However, despite looking lost sometimes without Oladipo, the Pacers scratched and clawed their way into the fifth seed, only two spots lower than they were when Oladipo went down.
It’s a testament to not only the good amount of talent on this team, but the coaching of Nate McMillan. At the beginning of the season if I were to have told you that the Celtics and Pacers would meet in the playoffs, you’d probably think Brad Stevens and the C’s have the coaching advantage, but I’m not so sure about that anymore.
The Pacers may not have home court advantage, but they are going to be very tough to beat when they play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers were arguably the best home defensive team in the league this season and they also arguably are better than Boston defensively.
If we see a gritty and grinding style of play from both clubs, I think that helps the Pacers. Their offense is nowhere near what it was when Oladipo was healthy, but if they can play defense and keep the score close, they have the ability to cover some spreads, or even get some upsets on the road.
The Sharp Pick
However, while I am a slight adopted homer and cheering for the Pacers, my realistic self tells me they won’t win more than one game.
Kyrie Irving is way too good and no one on the Pacers is going to keep him out of the paint. While Myles Turner has become one of the best defensive centers in the league, if he gets into foul trouble because the C’s are getting free trips into the paint, it will be a quick series.
The issues for the Pacers are mainly offensive though. Not only is Boston a very good defensive team, the Pacers are probably the worst offensive team left in the playoffs.
Since Oladipo went down, the Pacers are only averaging 108.6 points per 100 possessions, which ranked them 23rd in the league during that stretch. Only the Nets were worse during that time.
If Boston cranks up their defense in these first two home games, I suspect Indiana will be down 0-2 heading back home. They may win that third game, but I think Boston wins four and five and somewhat easily moves on to the second round.