Indiana visits the league's worst team, the Milwaukee Bucks, while Charlotte is at Washington. The Pacers are 6.5-point favorites on NBA odds with a scant total of 185. The Wizards are -5 against the Bobcats with a total of 194.5 for sports bettors.
Pacers vs. Bucks
If you think those sports bettors holding NBA championship tickets for Indiana are panicking now, wait to see the reaction if the Pacers somehow lose Wednesday to the 14-63 Bucks. Indiana (35-42-1 ATS, 32-44-2 O/U at sportsbooks) enters the game having lost seven of nine -- it is just 20-18 in its past 38 games -- and there are actually reports, real or not, that Coach Frank Vogel could be in some trouble if things don't change immediately. Would team president Larry Bird actually have the stones to fire Vogel at this point in the season and take over on the bench? It seems very unlikely, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
Vogel tried a desperate move in Sunday's 19-point home loss to Atlanta, benching his starting five as a group for a chunk of the game. All-Star center Roy Hibbert got the worst of it, not playing a second after halftime. His body language on the bench was not pleasant, and he wouldn't talk to reporters afterward. On Tuesday, Vogel took the unusual step of giving Indiana's starters the day off from practice but all the reserves went through a full one. Vogel also said "not everybody" will play against Milwaukee. Hibbert could be one as he's struggling. Paul George and David West both have asked for some rest for the postseason. This line originally opened at Indiana -8 and dropped immediately upon the news a few guys could sit. On the bright side, Indiana backup guard C.J. Watson, who has missed 17 of the past 18 games with injuries, might play.
The Bucks (35-42 ATS, 43-34 O/U) were a playoff team last year and thought they would be again after acquiring O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight this offseason, but they will finish with the NBA's worst record and the most ping-pong balls in the 2014 draft lottery. Milwaukee already has blown by the franchise record for defeats. The Bucks have three wins since the start of March, all at home and against lottery teams (Jazz, Magic and Lakers).
The Pacers have won all three meetings with the Bucks this year, but they've gotten progressively closer: 27 points, 10 points (the lone meeting in Milwaukee) and five in the last meeting Feb. 27. The Bucks would love to see George sit. He's averaging 24.0 points and 5.0 assists this year against them.
Bobcats vs. Wizards
Even as much as the Pacers are struggling, it's likely that Charlotte and Washington would prefer to avoid finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference and a likely first-round matchup with Indiana. Finishing No. 6 will draw either Toronto or Chicago. That could be determined by this game as the Wizards lead the Bobcats by a game for the sixth seed.
This is Charlotte's first game since clinching a playoff spot Saturday with an overtime win in Cleveland. Might there be a bit of a hangover for this young team after doing so? The Bobcats (45-29-3 ATS, 36-39-2 O/U at sportsbooks) have played the last three games without starting power forward Josh McRoberts, but they expect him back. He's averaging 8.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
Washington (39-37-1 ATS, 40-37 O/U) might get power forward Nene back. He hasn't played since suffering a knee injury on Feb. 23 in Cleveland and the Brazilian was fortunate to avoid a torn ACL. He was back at practice on Monday for the first time since the injury. Washington was 12-9 without him but the Wizards are a much better team with Nene in the lineup. The team clearly would like to get him into game shape and in sync with the rotation before the playoffs. With a healthy Nene, the Wizards would be very capable of pulling an upset in the first round of the playoffs.
Charlotte leads the season series 2-1 so a victory here would give the Bobcats a potentially important head-to-head tiebreaker. The Wizards lost the lone meeting in D.C. 98-85 on March 12. Charlotte's Al Jefferson is averaging 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in the three games. Think there might be some national championship trash talk between Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker (UConn) and Washington counterpart John Wall (Kentucky) in this one?
NBA parlay picks: Pacers -6.5 on NBA odds and under 194.5 in Bobcats-Wizards for a +155 payout (when using the projected Indiana moneyline of -300 and the -110 total moneyline). Even if Indiana rests a guy or two, the Bucks are rolling out a D-League roster for the most part. The Pacers will end a nine-game ATS losing streak on Wednesdays. The under is 7-1 in Washington's past seven overall and 7-2 in Charlotte's past nine after a win.