The Indiana Pacers have been getting frisky with George Hill back in the lineup. They could be a solid NBA pick this Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, who might be without Anthony Davis.
Jason’s record as of Feb. 10: 34-29-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
Every time you do something bad, a Pelican loses its wings. The New Orleans Pelicans got a major scare on Saturday when Anthony Davis landed hard on his right shoulder after dunking on the Chicago Bulls. Fortunately for the Pellies, the X-rays came back negative, so Davis is considered day-to-day for now. But he’s a good candidate to sit out until after this weekend’s All-Star break.
That would leave the Pelicans considerably short-handed for Wednesday night’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET) with the visiting Indiana Pacers. They know a thing or two about injuries. They also have starting point guard George Hill back in the lineup, and the Pacers are 5-4 SU and 6-3 ATS since his return. We don’t have any NBA odds available on this game yet because of Davis’ status, but Indiana looks like a viable pick nonetheless.
Your Hill to Die on
To call George Hill (14.8 career PER) a league-average point guard would be a disservice. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an average point guard in the NBA. Far from it. But Hill is better than that; as Indiana’s starter in 2012-13, Hill posted a 16.6 PER while leading the team in Win Shares at 9.7 – yes, ahead of Paul George (9.0 WS), David West (9.1 WS) and Roy Hibbert (6.1 WS).
Even after dipping to 13.4 PER last year, Hill’s durability and his improved defense (plus-1.4 DBPM) were enough to put him 11th among NBA point guards at 7.03 WAR, ahead of more fragile players like Russell Westbrook (6.89 WAR) and Tony Parker (6.40 WAR). But like most of Indiana’s starters, Hill was overworked during those two seasons, and the downfall was inevitable. Hill missed the first 28 games this year with a knee injury, then missed another 11 games with a tender groin.
My Father Knew Paul George
There hasn’t been anything average about Hill’s play since his return. He’s playing some of the best basketball of his career at 21.2 PER, matching his 21.2 points per 36 minutes. Part of the reason Hill’s scoring is up is because of the absence of Paul George; Hill’s 16.4 shot attempts per 36 minutes are also a career high. But so is his 51.6 percent success rate on 2-pointers, not to mention his assists (5.6 per 36) and rebounding (5.1 per 36).
Let’s not forget that the Pacers (20-33 SU, 27-23-3 ATS) were the No. 1 seeds in the Eastern Conference last year. Things went pear-shaped when Paul George broke his leg during the offseason, and just about everyone else on the team got hurt, too. But as we go to press, the only missing persons beside George are reserves Lavoy Allen (16.3 PER) and Ian Mahinmi (plus-2.4 DBPM). With Hill at the controls, Indiana beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (–6 away) 103-99 last Friday to snap Cleveland’s winning streak at 12 games.
The Seldom Seen Kid
The Pelicans (27-25 SU, 30-22 ATS) are pretty darned good when healthy, too. But that’s becoming a rare event. Davis (31.7 PER) has been in and out of the lineup, Jrue Holiday (18.6 PER) doesn’t appear to be healing from that stress reaction in his right leg, and now Ryan Anderson (16.5 PER) is day-to-day with a sore elbow. Anderson has already been written out of Wednesday’s matchup.
Again, given that this is the last game for New Orleans before the All-Star break, we’d be somewhat surprised if Davis didn’t join Anderson on the bench. But we’d probably lean toward adding Indiana to our NBA picks even if Davis were involved. Losing Anderson cuts significantly into the already-thin Pellies bench. And they’ll need all the frontcourt help they can get against Hibbert (15.7 PER), West (17.2 PER) and even Luis Scola (15.7 PER).
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pacers +2.5 at 5Dimes