The Eastern Conference play-in tournament comes to an end on Thursday when the Indiana Pacers travel to DC to take on the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Pacers are coming off a big 144-117 blowout over the Charlotte Hornets in Tuesday night’s play-in game, while the Wizards dropped their first play-in result to the Boston Celtics with a score of 118-100. The two teams will turn focus toward each other as both are fighting for the eighth and final spot in the NBA Playoffs.
Below is a look at a number of predictions ahead of Thursday night’s game for the Free $5k DraftKings Pools - Playoff Edition (IND-WAS).
Which team will cover the spread? Wizards -3.5 or Pacers +3.5
With everything on the line as both teams are fighting for playoffs in a do-or-die scenario, it just may not matter much that the Wizards swept the regular season series against the Pacers with three wins — two of those coming at home. It also may not matter that the Wizards won 17 of their last 23 games down the stretch to finish the regular season. These two sides met twice in the month of May alone, where the Wizards won both, although the last game was a close affair with Washington pulling off a 133-132 win. That being said, Washington heads into this game as the favorites, and if Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook can take advantage of the Pacers’ injuries, expect the Wizards to win by at least a couple buckets.
Pacers vs. Wizards: Over/Under 232.5 points
The last two games between these teams ended up with scores of 154-141 and 133-132, both in favor of Washington. 232.5 seems rather low even for a tournament game, and while the Wizards only pulled off 100 points against the Celtics, this has all the makings of a high-scoring contest, so over would be the safe bet.
Which team will reach 30 points first?
The Pacers hit 40 in the first quarter in their first play-in game on Tuesday night. Granted, that was against the Hornets and they went on to win by 27, but they seemed to have no problem on the scoring end. This bet will also depend on if Bradley Beal can come out hot and put a bunch in the net — last time he faced the Pacers he dropped 50 points. That might be the case as the Washington players should be more motivated than ever after their loss to the Celtics, so I’d think they may come out with the hotter start and hit 30 first.
Who will have more points, rebounds and assists: Sabonis or Westbrook?
While both players are more than capable of putting up huge numbers in all three categories, I’ve got to go with Russell Westbrook as the better play on this one as he’s logged triple-doubles in seven of his last 10 games. Domantas Sabonis can grab a triple-double here and there, but he’s not quite as consistent as Westbrook, especially in the assists column.
Who will score the most points: Brissett, McConnell or Hachimura?
Oshae Brissett has put in some big offensive performances throughout the last few games, dropping 31 in the Pacers’ final regular-season game against the Raptors and following it up with 23 points against the Hornets. With Myles Turner (toe) and TJ Warren (foot) both out for Thursday’s matchup, that should lock Brissett into the starting lineup and you can expect him to continue to play a big role in the Pacers offense. Neither McConnell nor Hachimura have put up numbers like that through their last few games, so Brissett has to be the play here.
Bradley Beal total points: Over/Under 29.5?
While he’s been somewhat inconsistent through his last 10 games, scoring as high as 50 and as low as 19, Beal will be expected to leave it all on the court and have a relatively big night. He’s scored over 40 three times in his last 10, and with the Pacers missing some key players in their lineup, over should be the safe play in this one.
Which team will make more 3-pointers?
Both teams have similar stats when it comes to three-point averages over the season — the Wizards shot 35.1 percent while the Pacers shot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc all season long. They both allowed roughly 36 percent from their opponents as well. The Pacers have a solid three-point shooter in guys like Justin Holiday, who went 3-for-5 against the Hornets, while recently going 8-for-12 against the Bucks last week. Unless Beal or Westbrook find themselves on fire from downtown, which is somewhat unlikely given that neither of them have drained more than four in their last 10 games, I’d go with the Pacers hitting more threes in this game.
Which team will win the 4th quarter?
I don’t think this will be a blowout in either direction, so the game will most likely come down to the fourth quarter. I think the Wizards will pull away and widen the gap down the stretch, winning the fourth quarter in turn.
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