Wizards’ disappearing act
It didn’t take long for Washington to start playing like the team we thought they were, and even though credit should not be withheld from the Pacers, Washington should have won Game 4. Sloppiness, lack of free-throw shooting, and poor shot selection derailed this team. You come to expect these sorts of things from young teams, but in the end, this series isn’t over yet. The NBA odds for Game 5 favor the Pacers at -5, with a total of 181 points.
Now down 1-3, the Wizards will probably be motivated to reactivate their defense, which was so effective in the first round, as well as in Games 1 and 2 of this series. If they can do that, they stand a good chance at staying close in this game. On the flip side, the Pacers’ defense is slowly getting back to form, and although the Pacers aren’t playing as well as they started the season, their defense is closer to being ‘back’ than their offense.
Roy Hibbert has now played well in three straight games, and like I mentioned in last game’s article, he doesn’t have to score that much to play well for Indiana. All the Pacers need from him is rebounding and defense, and he gave them exactly that in Game 4. It seems like his confidence is getting back to normal, and that should lead the Pacers’ defense in this game, and the rest of the playoffs.
Seeing as this is a closeout/elimination game, both defenses should be engaged, and I think the 'under' is the play because of it. Traditionally, the 'under' is a really good play in playoff elimination games.
The Sharp Pick
I don’t expect a sudden turnaround for the Wizards’ offense on the road here. They have been turning the ball over with great frequency over the last two games, and I don’t think they can overcome it. However even if their offense isn’t clicking, they should engage their defense some more in Game 5 now that they are facing elimination. The 'under' has now cashed in two of the last three games in this series, and even with the low total, the 'under' has value.
The Pacers have cashed the 'under' now in seven of their last ten playoff games, and as a home favorite both in the regular and postseason, the Pacers are 27-18 cashing the 'under' this season. Furthermore, when playing with one day off in between games this year, the Pacers are 30-18-1 cashing the 'under' in the NBA Odds.
While I don’t think Indiana’s offense will suddenly explode here, I do think both team’s defense will be strong enough to cash the 'under' as the pick for NBA bettors. One or both of these teams will be below the 90-point margin by game’s end, and at 181, this total is seemingly still too high.
My Free NBA Pick: Bet 'under' 181.