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INDIANA IN TROUBLE AGAIN AFTER DROPPING SERIES OPENER TO WASHINGTON

The Indiana Pacers may be the most inconsistent team in recent playoff history. Typically, inconsistent teams don’t get near the playoffs. If they do, they’re dispatched with quickly once they run into quality. But, quality can be scarce in the Eastern Conference, which means we’re watching the Pacers roller coaster soar and plummet on a daily basis.

Will Wednesday Night bring their turn to soar? Or, does Washington have enough quality that now is the time we see Indiana dispatched from the 2014 postseason?

Here’s Indiana’s run so far:

*Missed the spread by 16 points in G1 vs. Atlanta

*BEAT the spread by 9 points in G2

*Missed the spread by 15 points in G3

*BEAT the spread by half a point in G4

*Missed the spread by 17 points in G5

*BEAT the spread by 9 points in G6

*BEAT the spread by 5 points in G7

*Missed the spread by 10 points in G1 vs. Washington

That’s 4-4 straight up and against the spread…with all four “misses” being by double digits. When the Pacers play bad, they play REALLY bad. They got away with it vs. Atlanta because the Hawks weren’t really a playoff caliber team to begin with. Washington is (by Eastern standards), and is in very good form at the moment.

Since this is our first look at this second round series here in the NOTEBOOK, let’s quickly review our key “gauntlet” stats before talking more about tonight.

Offensive Efficiency

Washington: 103.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #16 in the NBA)
Indiana: 101.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #22 in the NBA)

Neither team was very good offensively. Though, Washington was better than this when Nene Hilario was at full healthy. They certainly provided challenges to the Chicago defense in the last round, and to Indiana’s defense in this series opener. Indiana’s offense collapsed down the stretch, and has been come and go in the playoffs.

Defensive Efficiency

Washington: 102.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #9 in the NBA) 
Indiana: 96.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)

Indiana had the best team in pro basketball all season. Even during their sustained slump in the second half of the season, they were still playing well on this side of the floor. To the degree there’s a problem in the playoffs, it’s that they’re allowing too many three-pointers. Inside defense is still a strength for Indiana. Washington’s probably better than you realized on this side of the floor.

Pace Ranking

Washington: #19
Indiana: #20

They play the same pace, which means neither team will have an advantage if things slow way down later in the series. They’re on the slow side of average…but still much faster than we see in the other Eastern series matching Brooklyn and Miami.

Against the Spread
Washington: 43-38-1 (5-1 so far in the postseason)
Indiana: 38-43-1 (4-4 so far in the postseason)

Washington eked out a post-vigorish profit in the regular season, then has been money-in-the-bank so far in the playoffs. Indiana had one of the hottest starts in league history, followed by the most dramatic pointspread crash ever suffered by a quality team. They’ve split in the playoffs thus far…which is at least an improvement over what had been happening in the past 30 games.

Las Vegas Line:
Indiana by 4, total of 185

The market is still giving Indiana credit for its seed…even if they’re not playing like a contender at this point. Note that Washington outrebounded Indiana 53-36 in Game One, something that can’t possibly continue if the Pacers hope to come back.

JIM HURLEY was ahead of the curve with this Pacers story all season. He’s confident he’ll have the winner for you Wednesday Night pending any late news coming in from his sources. You can purchase Tuesday’s NBA PARLAY (this game plus LA Clippers/Oklahoma City) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about combination packages for NBA and MLB, or those two plus the rest of the Triple Crown.

Back with you tomorrow at this time for Game two of the Portland/San Antonio series. That will finish off our look at all four second round matchups over a four day period. Wednesday’s teams are back on the floor Friday. We’ll dig deep into the most compelling matchup based on how things go on the scoreboard this evening. Will one of the pre-series favorites be standing 0-2 after a pair of home losses? Will Kevin Durant and OKC be in the early stages of a seven-game thriller with the Clippers? Visit the NOTEBOOK every day through the playoffs for handicapping analysis and tips.

Then, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

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