NBA Best Bets for Thursday, May 23rd

Welcome to my daily column of NBA best bets! Here at VSiN we have a ton of NBA content daily, so make sure to keep tabs on Zach Cohen who is doing an excellent job handicapping the league on a daily basis.

NBA Best Bets

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics (-9, 224.5)


There are quite a few interesting angles to tackle in the second game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Many believe that Indiana threw its best punch on Tuesday, and that the Pacers will show up deflated and be sent on their way in a blowout tonight. The market seems to disagree with that sentiment.

Boston opened as 8.5-point favorites at most shops and went to -9 shortly after. The market has since bounced back and we’re back to the opening line across the board. The situation might call for a Celtics slaughter tonight, but the Pacers didn’t do anything unsustainable in Game 1.

Indiana averaged just 1.143 points per possession in the loss. It shot 35.3% as a team from 3-point range and went 0-of-4 from the corners. The Pacers were most efficient in the halfcourt, where they averaged 1.037 points per play. That is nearly identical to the halfcourt offensive rating they had against the Celtics in the regular season (1.034).

This all to say that I believe the market is right in backing Indiana one more time at the window tonight. We saw late support for the Pacers before tip-off on Tuesday, and that ended up being correct. I think those same folks are getting it right again today.

The other angle worth taking note of is Tyrese Haliburton’s 3-point prop.

Haliburton has seemingly shaken loose whatever cobwebs he had in the last half of the regular season and early portions of the postseason. In his last six games he is averaging 25.5 points and 7.0 assists on 54.4% shooting from the floor. But, what really sticks out is his shooting.

Perhaps due to his hamstring still not being fully healthy, Haliburton has increased his 3-point frequency immensely. The Pacers point guard took 48% of his attempts from deep in the regular season. In the postseason, that frequency rate is up to 64.4%! He’s gone from averaging 7.8 3-point attempts per game to 9.6 in the playoffs. He is averaging 0.8 more made 3-point attempts per game.

According to the NBA Prop Analyzer, the market shifted Haliburton’s prop to 3.5 3-pointers six games ago. However, the under is favored at -130 consensus. If Haliburton hits his playoff averages from an attempt sandpoint that number should be closer to -110 or so.

The last prop worth pointing out would be Jrue Holiday’s steals. His number is 1.5 shaded to the under at -188 or so. He’s averaging 1.4 per game in this postseason, but his assignment of guarding Haliburton along with the increased pace gives him more opportunities to surpass this number. He grabbed three on Tuesday and might be worth a small stab at a decent price to grab two or more tonight.

Best Bets: Pacers (+9) | Haliburton OV 3.5 3P (+102) | Jrue Holiday OV 1.5 STL (+188 – 0.5u)

2023-2024 Record: 123-131-3 (-19.88u)