Indiana Pacers Blow Game 1 to Boston Celtics, Face Pivotal Game 2 Thursday

Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle is only partially right when he told reporters after the game on Tuesday, “This loss is totally on me.”

He did make some critical coaching errors in the final minute of a game that saw Indiana up by three, and on the verge of stealing Game 1 from the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Most analysts agree that with the Celtics inbounding the ball in the final 10 seconds, and needing a three-pointer to tie, the Pacers should have immediately fouled when the ball was caught, setting up two free throws.

And after Jaylen Brown hit his desperation three-pointer to tie the game, and Indiana still having one more chance, the Pacers could have called time-out and set up an offensive play for one final shot. Instead, after the Pacers got the ball quickly back in bounds, Tyrese Haliburton kept the ball the entire possession and threw up a terrible shot as the fourth quarter clock expired.

Those mistakes are on Carlisle. But Haliburton had the ball with 27 seconds and up by three, and with the expectation that, at worst, the Pacers will have free throw attempts to extend the lead, he dribbled the ball out of bounds. It was one of two critical turnovers by the Pacers in the final minute, and one of 22 for the game. The Celtics scored 32 points off Indiana turnovers, including a big three-pointer by Jayson Tatum in overtime after Haliburton lost the handle again.

The final score was 133-128. If you were a Pacers bettor, congratulations. You covered the 9.5-point spread. If you are a Pacers fan, you realize that after one win slipped away on the road, Game 2 on Thursday night becomes critical.

The Celtics are favored by nine points over the Pacers, and even as Game 1 came down to overtime, it does feel like Boston can take firm control. The Pacers shot better from the floor than Boston, outrebounded them, and had more assists. The bench scoring advantage was 30-13.

It was the formula for a victory, and yet they still lost. You have to expect Boston to play closer to the form that gave them the best record in the NBA this season, and have a much easier time of things in Game 2.

Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves

The Western Conference Finals tip off on Wednesday night, when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Minnesota Timberwolves. Like Boston, Minnesota is the choice to protect their home floor. They are favored in this game by 4.5 points.

But it’s worth noting that the Mavericks got two of their four wins in the last round on the road against Oklahoma City. In those two wins, they were underdogs by 4.5 points in one, and getting five points in another.

The Mavs are paying +154 on the moneyline, while a bet on the Timberwolves to win outright pays -185.

In Minnesota’s semifinal series win over the Denver Nuggets, they won only one of three games they played at home.

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