Indiana has impressed many folks this year with their record, successfully building off a near defeat of LeBron’s Cavs in the opening round a year ago. Even without their star player and 2X All-Star Victor Oladipo, the guys have risen to the occasion and just keep grinding.
Portland has slipped the past few days, while the Rockets have been nearly unbeatable. They have some serious work to do if they want to get into the top three, and if they want to keep home court for the opening round, have to watch their tails because OKC is coming!
They are #21 in the league in points scored, but #1 in points allowed, something Nate McMillan has preached to them all year. To limit opponents’ chances. Bojan Bogdanovic is averaging 18 points per game, shooting 43% from three. Wes Matthews is scoring 14 points per game since signing here, and he’s shooting 40% from deep. Darren Collison, Bogdanovic, and Thaddeus Young all play terrific defense and have yet to miss a game. After missing an extended period of time due to injury, Domantas Sabonis is back in the lineup and posting his double-doubles on a nightly basis.
Tyreke Evans has been absolutely horrific here this season, but it hasn’t negatively impacted them. Guys at every position can come in and play strong defense, which is a big part of the team’s identity. The hope for Indiana will be to one-up their trip to the postseason last year by climbing out of the first round. If they can get to the #3 seed, they will certainly have a good chance. Philly/Boston? Likely a little too tough. Brooklyn or Detroit? Definitely winnable.
They will only have one of their one-two-punch available tonight. CJ McCollum strained his left knee and will miss this entire week. A big blow to fantasy owners everywhere, but no bigger blow than it is to Dame Lillard. That is his right-hand man, the one who can take over games when he needs a break. Rodney Hood has suddenly become very valuable to the team with McCollum out, and he has averaged 15 points over the last two games. Filling in as the starter, he’ll have the chance to prove his worth to the team, and the other 29 who may hope to sign him in the offseason.
Jusuf Nurkic has continued to play great ball, and they’ll need him to play a big role once again. He’ll be battling with Myles Turner, a matchup that will be sure to draw a lot of attention. Seth Curry and Jake Layman knocking down shots off the bench would also help their cause significantly.
Pacers get the road win
Be sure to bet IND +3.5! It is going to be a good day for Indiana, and Bojan Bogdanovic, who will knock down seven long balls to help the cause. They will get their 45th win, handing Portland loss #28.
Free Pick: IND +3.5
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