NBA Pick: Indiana Pacers -3½ over Washington Wizards

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, April 6, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

The Pacers continued to struggle with the better teams from the Western Conference last night, but look for them the clinch the Central Division title on the road in Washington Saturday.

Look for the visiting team to clinch its first division title since the 2003-04 season vs. a team that it has dominated on Saturday night when those Indiana Pacers (48-28, 19-19 away) pay a visit to the suddenly rejuvenated Washington Wizards (28-47, 21-17 home) at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Indiana as a road favorite for this contest with the current line at -3½ with odds of -109.

The Pacers had a chance to clinch their first Central Division title in nine years at home last night, but they continued to struggle with the better teams in the Western Conference as Indiana fell 97-75 to the Oklahoma City Thunder despite the Thunder not arriving in Indiana until the wee hours of the morning after playing at home Thursday night.

That may put the Pacers in an ornery mood for this contest, and one thing they have done this season is take care of business vs. conference foes, going 30-16 against Eastern Conference opponents. They have also won nine consecutive meetings vs. the Wizards with four of those wins coming here in our nation’s capital by an average of +9.8 points.

The Pacers had won five straight games prior to the Thunder loss while topping 100 points in all five of those victories, and the last four of those wins came on the road. Indiana may rank 21st in the NBA in scoring at 94.8 points per game, but its offense has gotten better as the year has gone on and when the Pacers are scoring points like they were before last night, they are almost impossible to beat.

That is because the defense has been consistently good all season while ranking second in the league in points against at 90..0 per game and leading the NBA in field goal percentage against, three-point defense and defensive efficiency. The Wizards have seen just how good the Indiana defense is first hand, averaging only 85.0 points in three losses to the Pacers this season.

To be fair though, all three of those wins came before John Wall made his season debut, and the Wizards have been a different team since then going 23-19 overall and 17-4 here at home, and Washington is currently riding an eight-game home winning streak with the most recent victims being the second place team in the Central Division in the Chicago Bulls 90-86 on Tuesday.

Unfortunately the Wizards did not take their fine home play with them on the road as they then shot 32.5 percent in an 88-78 loss at Toronto on Wednesday. Now the Wizards are probably full of confidence returning home here because of the winning streak, but they may again struggle to crack this Indiana defense with an offense that still ranks second to last in the NBA in scoring at 92.9 points per game, as Washington’s recent success is actually due to an underrated defense.

However, the Wizards are facing a much better defense this time around and look for that Indiana unit to stifle the Washington offense early and take the crowd out of the game before the Pacers go on to a handy division clinching victory on Saturday.

[gameodds]5/224097/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Pacers -3½ (-109)