Pacers vs. Celtics playoff picks Game 1: Bet on Boston to cover, White to shine in ECF opener
White is shooting 43.5% from deep this postseason. Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP.

The Boston Celtics are huge favourites in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The pregame narrative: The Indiana Pacers knocked off the New York Knicks in seven but face a step up in competition with the NBA-best Celtics. I'm expecting Boston to blow out its ECF opponent on Tuesday night.

Check out these Pacers vs. Celtics picks for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals on May 21.

Pacers vs. Celtics picks

[Best Bet]: Celtics -9.5 (-112)

The Celtics are odds-on favourites to win the title for a reason.

Boston paced the league in wins (64), offensive rating (122.2), net rating (+11.7), and true-shooting percentage (60.9%) during the regular season. It was also second in defensive rating (110.6).

Joe Mazzula's squad has been even better in the playoffs, going 8-2 with a +12.8 net rating.

A pair of Game 2 slip-ups are the only blemishes on an otherwise dominant run. Boston has seven double-digit wins and is outscoring opponents by an average of 11.6 points at home.

And if we're being honest, the Pacers have been incredibly lucky so far.

Indiana played a Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Milwaukee Bucks team in Round 1 — Damian Lillard also missed considerable time — and a banged-up Knicks team in Round 2.

Boston is without Kristaps Porzingis for the series opener but that shouldn't matter much.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White are holding down the fort while 37-year-old Al Horford is playing surprisingly solid minutes.

Indiana was 24th in defensive rating (117.6) and rebounding rate (49.2%) during the regular season. Its 124.3 road defensive rating in the playoffs is the second-worst.

Tyrese Haliburton has struggled to score with Jrue Holiday on the court and is averaging just 16.0 PPG vs. the two-time all-defensive player since joining Indiana. I expect him to have a quiet night on the road.

All signs point to a Boston blowout in Game 1.

Key stat: Boston is 5-3 ATS this postseason.

Quick pick

White over 20.5 points and assists (-129): Derrick White has been a menace this postseason and he should torch the defensively inept Pacers.

The point guard is averaging 18.2 points and 3.8 assists on 48.5/43.5/88.2 shooting splits. He's cleared this line in four of Boston's six home games.

White's volume is something bettors should feel confident in.

He's shooting 13.4 times per game, up from his 11.5 mark during the regular season. The Pacers were a middle-of-the-road team at defending point guards in the regular season but they'll need to focus on stopping Tatum and Brown first.

That should leave White plenty of open looks, especially from beyond the arc. Indiana's opponents are shooting 36.8% from deep this postseason (fifth-highest in playoffs).

Picks as of 11:44 a.m. on 05/20/2024.

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