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Pacers vs. Celtics series preview, prediction: Tyrese Haliburton is no match

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The Boston Celtics are big favorites in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers, but not quite as big as they were last round.

DraftKings is pricing the Celtics at -900 to move past the Pacers and reach the NBA Finals, which is significantly lower – but still massive favorite status — than the -3000 they were to beat the Cavaliers in Round Two.

A big piece of this is the status of star forward Kristaps Porzingis, who has already been ruled out for the first two games of this series against the Pacers, and it is unclear what his availability will be beyond that.

This series will be fascinating to see play out considering the Pacers really struggle defensively as they allowed the 27th most points per game (119) in the entire NBA, making it even more shocking that they got this far.

Most of those points have come in the paint, 57 per game (second most), and we have also seen players like the Knicks’ Donte DiVincenzo dominate games with open 3-point jump shots.

That will surely be something worth betting on, as most 3-point shots made are bets that are available for the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston won the season series 3-2, with one of those losses coming without Jayson Tatum playing.

Pacers vs. Celtics series preview, prediction

Indiana’s two primary scoring options are Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam, both of whom have brutal matchups in the half-court on defense.

Siakam will make things difficult for Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but matching up with them on the opposite end is likely to prove very challenging in its own right.


Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers will come in confident. Getty Images

The Pacers are certainly live to shoot an out-of-control percentage for a game or two this series, but the Celtics’ perimeter defense of Brown, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Payton Pritchard should be enough to really slow down the fast-paced Pacers.

But for the series, it’s unfair to expect the Pacers to defeat a historically great Celtics team, especially considering that the matchup isn’t ideal.

We’re betting the Celtics -1.5 at -340 on FanDuel, even the long odds here are worth it on this series to not go seven. Celtics in six or better is a winner.


Jrue Holiday is a consistent shooter for the Celtics.
Jrue Holiday is a consistent shooter for the Celtics. NBAE via Getty Images

As for 3-point shooting, Holiday led the Celtics in 3-point percentage during the regular season at a whopping 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

He takes just 4.7 attempts per game, which isn’t ideal, but Tatum is averaging just 1.8 3-pointers made per game in the playoffs, it makes him a relatively easy fade in the market considering he matches up with Siakam.

Haliburton is the favorite in the market (-110), but expect the on-ball defensive prowess of the Celtics to slow him down considerably.


Betting on the NBA?


Take a small stab at Holiday at 100/1 on DraftKings, by far the best odds on the market and far too wide of a long shot in what I expect to be a shorter series.

PICKS: Celtics -1.5 (-340, FanDuel), Holiday leads series in 3-pointers made (100/1, DraftKings)

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