NBA Scores and Odds: Celtics vs. Pacers

Sharp bettors await picks from the top MLB baseball handicappers, but there is plenty of money to be made in basketball as 2010-11 seasons have proven again.

Senior Writer Vegas Matty of previews Boston Celtics (51-21) at Indiana Pacers (32-42).

The Boston Celtics (51-21) are making a bad habit of finishing games poorly, which might end up costing them one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference playoff race.  Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers (32-42) are simply trying to hold on to the final postseason spot in the East and snap a two-game skid when they host the Celtics (-3) on Monday.

The Pacers are one game ahead of Charlotte in the eighth slot while Milwaukee is two games behind.  They are coming off a 100-88 loss at Detroit on Saturday as leading scorer Danny Granger continued to struggle with his shooting.  Granger scored 14 points against the Pistons but made only 5 of 14 shots from the field and earned just three trips to the free-throw line, converting on two.  He also made 4 of 13 from the floor in a 110-93 home loss to Indiana on Friday, although he did sink 11 of 12 free-throw attempts to finish with 20 points.

Indiana has averaged 90.5 points in its last two losses after scoring 102 or more in winning five of the team’s previous seven.  Boston was one of the two teams that held the Pacers under the century mark during that stretch in a 92-80 home victory on March 16.

The Celtics have dropped three of six since then to fall two games behind Chicago for the best record in the East, blowing leads in each of their past three and losing point guard Rajon Rondo to a finger injury.  They are just a half-game ahead of Miami for the second seed.  Rondo did not score in the last meeting with Indiana but had eight assists in a little under 30 minutes of action.  He was held out of the team’s 85-82 road win at Minnesota on Sunday and saw the Timberwolves rally all the way back from a 25-point deficit to lead by two midway through the fourth quarter.

Boston had lost its previous two games at home in similar fashion but edged Minnesota behind a team-high 23 points from Paul Pierce while Kevin Garnett scored 13 and added a team-high 13 rebounds.  Delonte West filled in for Rondo in the starting lineup and finished with eight points and five assists.

The UNDER has cashed in the last 10 games for the Celtics, who have allowed only one opponent to score more than 90 points over that span.  They have failed to beat the spread in their last three games overall but have covered the past four against the Pacers with the UNDER cashing in three straight.

Top expert pick on today’s card: The Great One Stevie Vincent sweeps the board yet again, going 4-0. Tonight another sweep is in store.

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