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[BKL] Mar 11, 2018

NBA Betting Preview: Pacers at Celtics

By Gracenote

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics (-6.5; 208.5)

The Boston Celtics have suffered only a three-point loss at Western Conference-leading Houston since the All-Star break, winning their other six games in that stretch by an average of 14 points. They will look to stay hot and keep close in the race for the top spot in the East when they host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

In a game marred by the scary incident with Celtics guard Jaylen Brown - who is sidelined while in concussion protocol after falling on his head at the tail end of a dunk - Boston got past Minnesota on the road 117-109 on Thursday to clinch a playoff spot. Guard Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence and led his team in scoring with 23 points. Boston is 2 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto and comfortably ahead of a six-team pack fighting for the rest of the playoff spots, a group that includes the Pacers, who have their sights set on the No. 3 seed. After a 112-87 rout of Atlanta on Friday at home, Indiana sat a half-game behind the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers.

ABOUT THE PACERS (38-28): Indiana plays 10 of its final 16 games on the road and the remaining home games include dates with Toronto and Golden State, both of whom also pop up on the road slate. They've solidified the point guard position ahead of the stretch run, as Cory Joseph has played well of late filling in for Darren Collison, who returned Friday after missing 11 games due to knee surgery to produce 17 points in 21 minutes.

ABOUT THE CELTICS (46-20): Boston's campaign began with Gordon Hayward crippled in the lane early in the season-opener at Cleveland, and many members of the team had to have some flashbacks after Brown's frightening fall. Marcus Smart started in place of Brown five times throughout the season, including Nov. 25 at Indiana when he scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Irving averages 24.8 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds since the All-Star break.

2. The road team has won each of the first three meetings, with Victor Oladipo going for 35 points and 10 boards in a 97-91 victory at Boston last month.
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