The Boston Celtics were arguably the best team in the NBA in the first half of the season, and they will look to carry that momentum into the second half as they come out of the break on the road against the Indiana Pacers. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’m targeting a first-half bet in this one.
Occasionally when a team heads in a negative direction, you can pinpoint the exact game it all started. The Indiana Pacers are an excellent example of this, as they lost a game on January 11th, and since then, they have only managed to win three games. Indiana went 3-16 from that game against the Knicks to the All-Star break, so the Pacers needed the break more than most teams.
In the ten games leading up to the All-Star break, the Pacers ranked 28th in NET rating as they struggled to find consistency on either end of the floor. Over that ten-game stretch, Indiana allowed more than 112 points to be scored in nine games, while opponents had an average shooting percentage of 49.7%.
Offensively the Pacers' struggles began with the injury to Tyrese Haliburton, and even when he came back toward the end of the first half, they still had a hard time finding consistency. In the eight games Haliburton played in his return, Indiana still ranked 25th in offensive efficiency rating in that span.
The Pacers' opponent tonight had a polar opposite finish to the first half of the season, as the Celtics went 7-3 in their final ten games with a NET rating of 7.6. Boston had the highest NET rating in the league during the first half of the season, as they ranked in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
In the Celtics' last four games heading into the break, they scored 119 points or more in each of them, and a big reason for this is Jayson Tatum, who averaged 30.6 points per game in the first half. Tatum and his shooting ability helped the Celtics rank second in three-point percentage over the last ten games at 40.8%.
The Boston Celtics can currently be found as -8 point road favorites, but for my play in this one, I’ll be taking their first-half spread at -4.5. Indiana was one of the least profitable first-half teams in the NBA during the first part of the season, as they went 23-37 ATS for a -26.41% ROI. On the other hand, the Celtics went 32-27 ATS in the 1H of games and were one of 11 profitable teams for first-half spread bets.
A well-rested Boston team is scary to think about, especially since the Pacers ranked 21st in opponent three-point percentage in the last ten games of the season. Boston finished the first half with the 6th-best three-point percentage while attempting the 2nd most three-pointers per game.
In the first half of games, the Celtics ranked 5th in three-point percentage while also pulling in the 5th most rebounds per game in the 1H. Indiana allowed the 3rd most rebounds per game in the first half of games this season, which sets up another area that Boston can dominate right from tip-off. I expect Indiana to continue their struggles in the first half of games tonight, and I also like where the number currently sits.
Boston Celtics 1H (-4.5)