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Celtics vs Pacers NBA betting picks and predictions: Boston at its best on the road

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The NBA odds have the Boston Celtics pegged as short road favorites over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, as the two Eastern Conference contenders collide.

We build the NBA betting blueprint for this marquee matchup, from our favorite bets for the side and total to some quick-paying NBA picks and prop plays.

BOSTON CELTICS AT INDIANA PACERS

QUICK HITTER

Boston has hit the skids. The Celtics have dropped four of their last five games as they limp into Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a matchup against the surging Pacers, who have won six of seven. Indiana returns home after a 2-1 road trip that ended with two straight victories over the Mavericks and Bulls.

Boston is still in shock after Sunday’s 105-104 home loss to the Thunder, in which Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder stole the lead in the final minute. Expect the Celtics to come out with an extra effort on the defensive end to try and salvage some momentum. The first-quarter Under is 20-11 for the Pacers at home this season.

Prediction: Under 51.5 First Quarter

FIRST HALF

Gordon Hayward scored 24 points in Sunday’s loss against OKC, his highest output since February 21 against the Timberwolves. The Celtics will continue to be without Jaylen Brown, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. With Brown sidelined and Jayson Tatum suddenly struggling, Hayward and Kemba Walker will be key for Boston.

Walker had 44 points in a losing effort the last time these teams played. Despite Boston’s recent injuries and struggles, it is still 9-1 ATS in the first half over the last 10 games. Expect an inspired effort out of Brad Stevens’ squad in the opening half.

Prediction: Celtics First Half Moneyline (-124)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Domantas Sabonis broke a franchise record with his 50th double-double of the season after putting up 20 points and 17 rebounds in Sundays win over Dallas. The All-Star forward continues to impress and has recorded a double-double in nine straight games. Boston allowed 56 rebounds in Sunday’s loss against Oklahoma City and if the Celtics continue to struggle from the floor, there will be plenty of opportunities for the “Dominator” to clean up the glass.

Prediction: Domantas Sabonis Over 12.5 Rebounds (-102)

TOTAL BET

Points should be at a premium in this matchup as both teams rank inside the Top 5 in scoring defense, with Boston allowing the fewest points per game at 106.8. The Celtics are also second in 3-point defense (34.1 percent) and fourth in overall field goal defense (44.1 percent).

The Celtics shot nearly 50 percent from the floor in the last matchup between these two teams as the game sailed over the total in a 122-117 home victory for Indiana. The Pacers lived at the free-throw line in that matchup, making 30 of 36 from the charity stripe. Considering Indiana is last in the NBA with just 19.3 free-throw attempts per game, it’s a safe bet that the Pacers won’t get as many chances at the line this time around, which should significantly affect the total.

Prediction: Under 214.5

SPREAD BET

Tatum is slumping. After scoring at least 28 points in seven straight outings, the All-Star forward has been held to under 20 in consecutive games – both of which were Boston losses. Tatum is shooting just 15 of 41 from the floor during this stretch.

Despite their recent slide, the Celtics still opened as favorites in this game and the line immediately moved in their direction, which is a very strong indication of who the oddsmakers and sharp bettors believe is the better team. Boston’s losing skid is a bit of a mystery as all four losses have come at home. Boston is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games and we expect that trend to continue as we get to back one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference at a discounted price.

Prediction: Celtics -2

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.