The NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals kick off on Monday night with the Boston Celtics taking on the Indiana Pacers in what will be the second meeting between these two teams this season.
Boston won the first meeting in a blowout – 155-104 – but Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton did not play in that game. The winner of this matchup will take on the winner of Tuesday’s Milwaukee Bucks-New York Knicks matchup in the semifinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas.
The Pacers went undefeated in group play, but the Celtics showed in their win over the Chicago Bulls that they can turn it on when needed, covering a massive point differential to steal their group from the Orlando Magic.
Does Boston – an NBA Finals favorite – make a run for the In-Season Tournament Cup as well?
Here’s a look at the latest odds, and my best bet, for Monday’s primetime matchup:
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Celtics vs. Pacers odds, spread and total
Celtics vs. Pacers how to watch
- Date: Monday, Dec. 4
- Game Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
- Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse
- How to Watch (TV): TNT
- Celtics Record: 15-4
- Pacers Record: 10-8
Celtics vs. Pacers injury reports
Celtics injury report
- Kristaps Porzingis – out
- Jordan Walsh – out
Indiana Pacers injury report
- Kendall Brown – questionable
- Tyrese Haliburton – questionable
- Jalen Smith – out
- Obi Toppin – questionable
- Isaiah Wong – questionable
- Oscar Tshiebwe – questionable
Celtics vs. Pacers key players to watch
Jayson Tatum: Tatum is going to need to be more aggressive in this game if the Celtics want to win. Before being ejected on Friday night, Tatum attempted just nine shots – going 6-for-9 from the field – against the Philadelphia 76ers. He should be in line for a big game against a Pacers team that ranks 29th in the league in defensive rating.
Jrue Holiday: This is a huge matchup for Holiday and the Celtics on the defensive end. An All-NBA defender, Holiday will be tasked with trying to slow down Haliburton. The Pacers guard has been on fire as of late, averaging 34.6 points per game over his last five matchups.
Tyrese Haliburton: Haliburton missed Indiana’s last game, but he’s averaging 27.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 11.8 assists per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3. He’s been one of the best players in the NBA, and he could swing this matchup in a big way from the first meeting between these teams.
Aaron Nesmith: This is a revenge game for Nesmith – a former lottery pick from Boston – who was dealt in the Malcolm Brogdon trade last season. So far this season, Nesmith is averaging 11.0 points per game and shooting 46.0 percent from 3.
Celtics vs. Pacers prediction and pick
Boston is favored in this game with Haliburton listed as questionable, but I don’t think the best bet to make is on either side.
Instead, I’m looking at the total in this game, which is way up at 242.5. Indiana is by far the best OVER team in the NBA this season, hitting it at an 88.9 percent clip (16-2 this season).
The Pacers profile as a perfect OVER team, ranking No. 1 in pace, No. 1 in offensive rating, and No. 29 in defensive rating. Boston should be able to score pretty easily (it put up 155 on this team earlier this season), as it clocks in at No. 9 in the league in offensive rating.
While the Celtics do have the No. 2 defensive rating, nothing has slowed down this Pacers offense. If Haliburton plays, the team should be in the running for around 120 points.
Over the Pacers’ last 13 games, 12 of them have cleared 242.5 points. I can’t help but expect another high-scoring game tonight.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.