The 2023-24 NBA regular season is over and we have turned the page to the NBA Playoffs. Throughout the postseason, Jonathan Von Tobel will continue to provide you with his exceptional coverage of the greatest league in the world. Just click here for all of his content. However, all of my picks will be featured in this daily column, which will combine my NBA best bets and NBA player props. So, keep reading to find out how I’m playing the Eastern Conference Finals game on Thursday, May 23rd. Also, check out our NBA Playoffs Betting Hub for all of our series previews and additional postseason content.

MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for everything our experts have on May 23

 

NBA Best Bets Today – May 23

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics – 8:00 pm ET

A lot of people were expecting the Celtics to blow the Pacers out in Game 1. However, we nearly saw Indiana go into Boston and come away with a big road win. The Pacers were up three points late in the game and they really should have found a way to get it home from there. But Indiana committed some costly turnovers, including one when the team was inbounding the ball with 10 seconds left. That led to a Jaylen Brown 3 to tie the game, and the Pacers folded in overtime. That must have been a very tough loss for Indiana, as the team badly needs to steal a road win. But the Pacers should feel good about the way things went in that first game, and I like them to cover the big number in Game 2.

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The reality is that Boston had a lot of trouble guarding Indiana’s pick-and-roll game without Kristaps Porzingis. Al Horford was just a step too slow, whether he was showing on Tyrese Haliburton to stop the drive or trying to stay at home on Myles Turner. That ultimately led to Haliburton and Turner cooking the Celtics in the two-man game. Boston responded by sticking Jayson Tatum on Turner, which then meant pick-and-roll actions with Haliburton and Pascal Siakam. And the Pacers had quite a bit of success with that too. Overall, that’s just something that can’t be ignored when looking at the rest of this series. Haliburton has been one of the most efficient pick-and-roll ball handlers in basketball all year long, and he’s working against a Celtics team that has looked stuck in the mud defending that action throughout these playoffs.

This is also going to be a big game in terms of adjustments. And I trust Rick Carlisle a little more than Joe Mazzulla when it comes to game-by-game changes. Carlisle has won an NBA title and is one of the brightest coaches in the game. Mazzulla has his strengths as a head coach, but changing up looks in the middle of a series isn’t one of them.

It’s also worth noting that the Pacers are 29-18 against the spread this season when playing an opponent that beat them in their previous game. And they have actually won those games by an average of 4.6 points per game, so perhaps they’re somewhat live on the moneyline. Boston has lost Game 2 in back-to-back series, so it’s definitely something to think about.

Bet: Pacers +9 (-105 – 2 units) & Pacers ML (+320 – 0.5 units)

NBA Player Props Today – May 23

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics – 8:00 pm ET

Haliburton had 25 points and 10 assists in Indiana’s loss in Game 1, and there’s not much that suggests a bad game is coming. As previously mentioned, the Celtics had no answer for Haliburton running pick-and-roll plays with his big men. I don’t see that changing in Game 2. And now that Haliburton is back to looking healthy, he’s playing like the superstar he was in the first half of the season. Haliburton was electric in Games 6 and 7 of the Knicks series, and he picked up where he left off at the start of this series. I’m not sure we’ll see another 35 combined points and assists out of the 24-year-old again, but I feel pretty good about him reaching 28. The Celtics might have good perimeter defenders, but the Pacers are looking for ways to get Haliburton in space. And they’re also hunting matchups to the best of their ability. I trust them to find another way to make it work in Game 2.

Bet: Haliburton Over 27.5 Points + Assists (-112)

2023-24 Record: 379-406-3 (+18.67 units)