While a couple of the other top seeds in the Eastern Conference struggled in their playoff opener, the Celtics easily handled the Pacers 84-74 in Game 1 of their first round series on Sunday.
It looked ugly at first as the Pacers led by seven at the half. However, the Celtics defence suffocated the Pacers in the second half, holding them to a total of 29 points. Unless the Pacers can find an offensive spark, the Game 2 result might look similar.
NBA Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Indiana struggled against the Celtics throughout the regular season, losing three of four – including their last two meetings in March. Not much changed in Game 1. Indiana will head into Wednesday night with a 4-12 against the spread record in their last 16 road games versus teams with winning records at home. They have covered seven of their last 10 first-round playoff games.
With the win, the Celtics are now 9-3 in the last 12 meetings between the teams and 12-7 ATS versus the Central Division. Boston is 9-2 against the spread in its last 11 conference quarterfinal games. For what it’s worth, the Celtics are also 20-5-1 ATS in their last 26 games played on Wednesday nights.
The Pacers had no answers at the offensive end of the floor in Game 1 of this series. Darren Collison was held to six points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field while Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner were a combined 6-of-17 from the field in the loss, combining for just 17 points. They had a halftime lead but were outscored 26-8 in the third quarter, which is pretty ugly. Clearly, this team misses All-Star Victor Oladipo, who has been out for a long time.
Points are going to be at a premium in this series, which works for the Pacers but someone has to make shots. They made just 33.3% from the field, 22.2% from three and hit a paltry 57.1 percent of their free throws. There is room for improvement.
While the Pacers lack a star, the Celtics have a number of players who can shine. Kyrie Irving was in excellent form in the Celtics’ Game 1 win, scoring a team-high 20 points with seven assists and five rebounds. Marcus Morris also chipped in 20 points off the bench.
Boston should be even more confident that they can win Game 2 by an even larger margin with a better effort from start to finish. Irving, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford are all capable of being even more efficient at the offensive end of the floor as they combed for 16-of-38. And this team could stand to get more from guys like Gordon Hayward, who only had 10 points or Terry Rozier, who only had five. It’s hard to see the Pacers winning Game 2.