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Will Celtics continue their offensive explosion?

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

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It wouldn't be an Eastern Conference series featuring the Celtics without their opponent's best player getting injured.

Boston defeated the Heat, who were without Jimmy Butler, in the opening round, and the Cavs, who were without Donovan Mitchell in the final two games, in the second round.

On Thursday, Tyrese Haliburton left Game 2 with a left hamstring injury - the same hamstring he injured earlier this season. With Haliburton, the Pacers had little chance of winning the series. Without him, Indiana has virtually no chance.

Haliburton's status is uncertain, but we still have two bets to target for Game 3.

Celtics team total: Over 115.5

The Pacers' putrid defense has no answer for the Celtics' league-best offense. Boston scored 133 and 126 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively. This total indicates oddsmakers expect an offensive regression when the Celtics play on the road.

But there's not a drastic dip in the Celtics' offensive rating on the road this postseason, and, while the Pacers' defense has been better at home in the playoffs, they've yet to welcome an offense as prolific as Boston's.

The Celtics simply have too many reliable options offensively. The Pacers are still attempting to figure out the right defensive matchups, but nothing works with mismatches all over the floor.

Haliburton's absence could help the Pacers defensively but will make it extremely difficult for Indiana to score. He's a weak perimeter defender who exposes the Pacers' point-of-attack defense, and if he plays through injury, Indiana's already inadequate defense would worsen.

This series looks like it's headed for a sweep, and another dominant offensive performance in Game 3 will push the Pacers to the brink of elimination.

Odds: -115

Jayson Tatum: Over 9.5 rebounds

Tatum's passiveness and inconsistent playoff performances draw criticism from pundits. Some of it is justified, but Tatum is an underrated rebounder. It's rare for a 27-point-per-game scorer to snatch rebounds consistently.

He's averaging 10.2 boards per game this postseason. The Celtics encourage Tatum to crash the defensive glass so he can lead the break instead of having their bigs grab the rebound and outlet it ahead to a ball-handler.

The Pacers, meanwhile, are a weak rebounding group. Although Tatum only grabbed six rebounds in Game 2, he secured 12 in Game 1. Expect another monster rebounding performance from Tatum in Game 3.

Odds: -140

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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