Boston Celtics

Celtics-Pacers predictions: Expert picks for Eastern Conference Finals

Not many people are giving the Pacers a chance to pull off the upset.

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The Boston Celtics were expected to reach the Eastern Conference Finals this season. The Indiana Pacers were not.

So, what should we expect from this David vs. Goliath kind of matchup?

This series likely will be a high-scoring affair. Both of these teams have at least six players averaging 10-plus points per game in the playoffs. The Pacers lead the playoffs in points per game (114.2), field goal percentage (50.7), 3-point percentage (38.1) and offensive rating (121.7). The Celtics rank sixth, T-3rd, third and second in those categories, respectively.

The real difference between these teams is on the defensive end of the court.

The Celtics are an elite defensive team with some of the best perimeter defenders in the sport, most notably Derrick White and Jrue Holiday. Boston has given up the second-fewest points per game (96.7) of the 16 playoff teams. Indiana has allowed the third-most points per game. The C's rank third in playoff defensive rating, while the Pacers are 13th.

The Celtics' edge on defense and experience, plus the fact that they have homecourt advantage, have contributed to them being heavy favorites in this series.

But the Pacers shouldn't be taken lightly. They pulled off two upsets over the first two rounds to reach the conference finals, including an impressive Game 7 victory on the road in Madison Square Garden to eliminate the New York Knicks from the second round. The Pacers are a confident team.

Here's a roundup of expert predictions for the Celtics-Pacers conference finals series. We'll add more predictions to this list when they are published.

Nick Goss, NBC Sports Boston: Celtics in five

Kurt Helin, NBC Sports: Celtics in five

Paul Pierce: Celtics in five

Tim Legler, ESPN: Celtics in 7

Tim Bontemps, ESPN: Celtics in 6

Bobby Marks, ESPN: Pacers in 6

Mark J. Spears, ESPN: Celtics in 6

Sam Quinn, CBS Sports: Celtics

James Herbert, CBS Sports: Celtics

Steve Aschburner, Celtics

John Schuhmann, Celtics

Michael C. Wright, Celtics

Andy Bailey, Bleacher Report: Celtics in four

Noa Dalzell, SB Nation: Celtics in five

Kyle Irving, Sporting News: Celtics in six

Michael Felger is joined by Gary Washburn and Chris Gasper to look ahead to the surprising match-up between the Celtics and Pacers in the East Finals
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