Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics
Game Info: Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at 7 p.m. EST (TD Garden, Boston)
Betting Odds: Indiana Pacers (+9.5) / Over/Under (231)
Pick: Pacers (+9.5)
In a Wednesday night Eastern Conference matchup, the Boston Celtics (22-9, 18-13 ATS) host the Indiana Pacers (15-16, 17-14 ATS). The game involves two teams who have been struggling of late, with both looking to end two game losing streaks.
After a surprising hot start to the season, the Pacers have come back down to Earth, dropping all the way down to 9th in the Eastern Conference, and losers of seven of their last ten games.
The Celtics have also struggled recently, as they've fallen out of the top spot in the East, on the heels of back-to-back losses at home to the lowly Orlando Magic. Boston also struggled out west prior to their matchups with the Magic, getting blown out by 20 points to the Clippers, and blowing a 20-point 3rd quarter league to the mediocre Lakers, before winning narrowly in overtime.
Both teams come into the game pretty healthy, although defensive mastermind Marcus Smart is currently questionable to play with a non-Covid illness Still, there is little doubt that at full strength the Celtics are the superior team, but that doesn't mean this one won't be close.
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With an 8-7 away record ATS, the Pacers are one of the more competitive road teams in the NBA. They also boast a young and athletic roster that could give some of Boston's older and less physical players some issues on defense, especially if Smart can't go.
Tyrese Haliburton is playing at an All-star level and Benedict Mathurin is a serious candidate for Rookie of the Year. Combine them with three-point sharpshooter Buddy Hield and the athletic veteran Myles Turner, I can see the Pacers giving the Celtics some headaches around the perimeter. In addition, Celtics center Robert Williams will probably still be on a minutes restriction as he works his way back from injury. With Williams limited and Boston lacking interior depth, the Pacers should be able to use their athleticism to attack the basket as well.
While wins have been hard to come by recently, the Pacers have kept recent games close, keeping recent games against the more talented Heat, Cavaliers, and Knicks to single digits.
The Celtics, of course, feature studs Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who probably will not have much trouble racking up points against an underwhelming Indiana defense. That said, I can see the rest of the Celtics struggling to keep up with the athleticism of the Pacers, and it may be tough for a third scoring option to develop for Boston.
I don't particularly expect the Pacers to pull out a victory here, but I definitely can see them keeping the game close. They have the athleticism and shooting to keep pace with Boston. They'll probably have to put up a lot of points to stay with the Celtics, but Indiana is capable of that if they shoot the ball to their potential. That's why I'm picking the Pacers to cover the spread of +9.5 and keeps this one close.