Predictions, Conference Finals Preview

The Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA are just around the corner. The top-seeded Boston Celtics take on the No. 6 seed Indiana Pacers in a battle to see who will advance to the 2024 NBA Finals.

The first two rounds were relatively easy for the Celtics, as they won both series against the Heat and Cavaliers in five games.

In fact, seven of Boston's eight wins this postseason have been by 13 points or more, including the two deciding games at TD Garden.

Things couldn’t be more opposite for the Pacers.

They defeated the Bucks in six games and won Game 7 against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in a decade.

In this head-to-head series, the Celtics held a 3-2 lead in the regular season but have not played each other since January 30th.

Can the Celtics reach their second NBA Finals in four years or will the Pacers make their first Finals appearance in 24 years?

Here's our analysis, odds and prediction of who will reach the Eastern Conference Finals this year between the Celtics and Pacers:

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Attack: Draw

When it comes to breaking up teams, one person usually always has the upper hand over the other.

That is not the case here.

Two of the best offenses of the year were the Pacers and Celtics.

After both Boston and Indiana led the NBA in scoring in the regular season (Pacers: 123.3 PPG and Celtics: 120.6 PPG), they are each in the top six in the playoffs.

This postseason, the Pacers lead the field with 114.2 points per game, while the Celtics are slightly further down at 108.1, good for sixth-best this postseason.

While Boston put up solid numbers against Cleveland in the second round, Indiana was slightly better, scoring at least 116 points in five of seven games against the Knicks.

This is really a challenge as neither organization has much of an advantage over the other.

Defense: Celtics

The big difference between these two franchises comes down to one word: defense.

The Celtics have been dominant defensively this postseason, only allowing over 100 points in three of their ten games so far.

The same cannot be said for the Pacers. They have only allowed fewer than 100 points in two games of the playoffs, Game 6 against the Bucks and Game 4 against the Knicks.

Additionally, Boston has the third-best defensive rating (106.1) and the best of the remaining four teams this postseason, while Indiana comes in at the bottom with the fourth-lowest defensive rating (118.1), the lowest of the aforementioned franchises in the Conference Finals.

The regular-season head-to-heads featured some of the highest-scoring games of the season, with three contests with a total score of 250 or more, including a 155-104 Celtics win over the Pacers in the first meeting on November 17th . 1.

Defense from the regular season to the postseason is a completely different game, and the Celtics have a big advantage over Indiana in this situation.

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Odds and Prediction for Celtics vs. Pacers:

Nobody, including me, expected the Pacers to get this far.

They finished the season under .500 and missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons before enjoying strong postseason success.

While each of the last four teams has earned this spot, it's easy to discount how Indiana got here.

Both of the Pacers' opponents (Knicks and Bucks) were severely hampered by injuries and were clearly not at 100 percent, including New York's Jalen Brunson, who broke his hand early in the seventh game of life and death last Sunday.

Because they're playing teams that aren't nearly at full strength and because of the porous defense, the Celtics will make their third straight appearance and defeat the Pacers in five games.

To make it even clearer: The oddsmakers also see a David versus Goliath situation here. Boston is the favorite to advance to the NBA Finals at -1100 (Bet $1,100 to win $100), while Indiana is the underdog at 7/1 (Bet $100 to win $700). is when it comes to beating the Celtics.

Prediction: Celtics in 5

Anna Harden

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