Thursday, February 29, 2024

NBA betting: Three picks for Monday

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The knockout round of the NBA In-Season tournament begins on Monday with two games: Celtics-Pacers and Pelicans-Kings. Both games are rematches from earlier in the season, which gives additional insight into what these matchups might look like on Monday. Let’s dig into it and find some angles.


Boston Celtics -4.5 over Indiana Pacers (-115)

When Tyrese Haliburton is running the show, the Pacers are the greatest offensive show on the hardwood, leading the NBA in scoring and offensive rating. Their games tend to be wildly entertaining because they also allow the most points and have the second-worst defensive rating in the league. This makes the Celtics a bad matchup for them, because they’re strong on both offense (seventh in offensive rating) and defense (second in in defensive rating). In addition, it isn’t clear whether Haliburton (questionable, illness) will play on Monday after he missed Saturday’s game. I’d have the Celtics favored either way, but Haliburton’s uncertainty pushes me further to the green side of the ledger. When these teams played earlier this season with Haliburton out, the Celtics won by 51 points.

Jayson Tatum over 29.5 points (-125)

Tatum’s style of play matches up perfectly against the Pacers. Their lack of defense and outscore-them mentality is right in Tatum’s wheelhouse, allowing one of the best shooter-scorers in the league the runway to catch fire early and often. He scored 30 points on only 15 shots and 27 minutes in the Celtics’ massive 51-point blowout win over the Pacers earlier this season, and if the game were closer, he could easily have dropped 40 points.

New Orleans Pelicans +3.5 points over Sacramento Kings.

We’re still early in the season, but this will be the third matchup for these two teams. And in both of the other matchups, the Pelicans have looked like the better team for the majority of the time while winning both games. The Pelicans enjoy a mismatch in the frontcourt, where Zion Williamson is too big and explosive for the Kings’ smaller forwards to slow down. The Kings have been the better team this season, but the Pelicans just match up well against them. I’ll take the Pels with the points.

Tonight’s lines and BPI predictions

Basketball Power Index by ESPN Analytics, Odds by ESPN BET


Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers
7:30 p.m. Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis


Records (Against the Spread)
Celtics: 15-4 (8-9-2)
Pacers: 10-8 (10-8-0)

Line: Celtics (-5.5) Total: 242.5
Money Line: Celtics (-220), Pacers (+190)
BPI Projection: Celtics by 3.1, straight up 60.9%, 238.0 total points.

Injury Report:
Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis, (OUT – Calf)
Pacers: Obi Toppin, (GTD – Ankle); Tyrese Haliburton, (GTD – Illness); Jalen Smith, (OUT – Heel)


New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. Golden 1 Center, Sacramento


Records (Against the Spread)
Pelicans: 11-10 (12-8-1)
Kings: 11-7 (10-8-0)

Line: Kings (-3.5) Total: 237.5
Money Line: Pelicans (+140), Kings (-165)
BPI Projection: Kings by 1.1, straight up 54.0%, 236.3 total points.

Injury Report:
Pelicans: Matt Ryan, (OUT – Elbow); Larry Nance Jr., (OUT – Ribs)
Kings: Chris Duarte, (GTD – Knee); Alex Len, (OUT – Ankle)

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