Before the season, immediately after David West surprisingly signed a free agent contract with the Indiana Pacers as opposed to the expected Celtics, Paul Pierce made a comment in the media about West just “going for the money” as opposed to winning. West, who coincidentally said he chose the Pacers because he thought they had a brighter future and great young talent, so far this young season has gotten both.
The Pacers enter with a sparkling 8-3 record while the Celtics appear to finally be showing their age and enter with a sub-.500 4-6 mark. These two faced off just seven days ago, and Indiana made them look their age, winning easily 87-74 in Boston. Tonight, just a week later they get a chance to validate that early season win with the return trip tonight in Indianapolis.
Both teams played last night, so in theory neither has the advantage – but in reality, the heavy schedule favors the younger and lighter legs of Indiana. In an odd twist, Indiana’s best player will be a little extra rested; Danny Granger was ejected in the second quarter of last night’s comeback road win over Toronto. Meanwhile, Boston was once again getting summarily defeated, again on national television, this time by Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
It is easy to peg Boston’s trouble to “getting old” without doing any research, but if one digs into the numbers, there are some really shocking stats to support it. In their last three losses, Boston is averaging just 33 points in the first half. Getting in a hole like that make winning nearly impossible on a nightly basis. The slow starts could be coincidence, but are more likely the telltale signs of fatigue. Unfortunately for Boston, with this season’s hectic and rushed schedule, it isn’t going to get any easier any soon.
Here is another jarring stat: Boston is averaging a league-low 72.6 field goal attenpts per game. That signifies a team that is giving up way to many offensive rebounds, turning the ball over too often, and frankly is slow to initiate their offense. In fact, if that number holds through the end of the season, it would be the lowest number of shot attempts since 1996-1997!
Tonight’s line is a reflection of reputations and past performance more than it is an indication of each team’s current ability. To only have to lay 2 tonight and get Indiana (who is 4-0 at home) in their own gym? It’s a gift I plan on taking advantage of. Boston is just 1-3 away from TD Ameritrade, including a humbling loss there to these very same Pacers a week ago. Tonight, the have to fly to Indiana the day after battling the physical Bulls and try to avenge that loss? I don’t see it happening.
Give me Indiana laying the scant two point spread.
Free Pick: Indiana Pacers -2 @ www.5dimes.com