In a matchup of two teams that have turned things around nicely after slow starts, the balanced scoring and better defense of the Pacers should prevail vs. the home standing Wizards.
The road team could have the edge Tuesday night in a matchup of two teams that are playing much better as of late than they were at the very start of the season as the Indiana Pacers (8-5, 9-4 ATS) pay a visit to the Washington Wizards (6-4, 5-5 ATS) at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - Mid-Atlantic.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Indiana as a small road underdog for this contest with the current line at +2 with odds of +100.
Pacers 8-2 Since 0-3 Start
The Pacers began this season at 0-3 as they started transitioning to a smaller lineup and playing a faster pace, but they get the hang of it now as they have won eight of their last 10 games since then to move up to third place in the Central Division, with the two losses being by a combined total of just five points vs. the first place Cleveland Cavaliers (101-97) and second place Chicago Bulls (96-95), easily covering the point spread in both of those road losses.
As for the Wizards, they sat at 3-4 before being the winning NBA picks in their last three games, although it bears mentioning that none of those last three wins came over a team that is currently over .500. Most recently, Washington used a 51-15 bench-point advantage to rally for a 97-95 road win over the Detroit Pistons at Auburn Hills on Saturday.
Four Double-Digit Scorers and Nice Bench
The Pacers lost some defensive stalwarts during the off-season in Roy Hibbert and David West while adding a scorer in guard Monta Ellis and going small by moving All-Star Paul George to the power forward spot. Thus, Indiana has upped its pace rating this year to 98.7 possessions after ranking 24th in the NBA in pace rating at 95.5 possessions last year, and to the delight of Coach Frank Vogel, the Pacers have done that without giving up much defensively.
Thus, the Pacers are averaging nearly 100 points at 99.6 per game thus far, which makes them seem like the Golden State Warriors when compared to the plodding offenses Indiana has had since Vogel took over as coach, while at the same time the Pacers are fourth in the NBA in points against allowing just 94.5 per game.
That defense combined with a balanced offense that currently has four starters averaging double-digits led by George with his 24.8 could once again bring the Paces up to elite status in the Eastern Conference like they were a couple of years ago. And Indiana even has more offense off the bench than in recent years, with the threesome of Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Glen Robinson III combining for 84 bench points over the last two games!
Now the Wizards can score, averaging 103.6 points per game, and they too have a much improved bench compared to last season, as evidenced by the 51 points from the reserves in Detroit. However, the difference between these teams is that most of the Washington scorers are defensive liabilities, so while we like the chances of the Indiana defense stopping the Wizards’ scorers, the same cannot be said the other way around.
Washington is currently 26th in the league in points against at a disturbing 105.3 per game and 22nd in field goal percentage allowed at 45.6 percent, and the Wizards had some cringe-worthy +/- figures from the starters in the win over the Pistons before the bench bailed them out, as Marcin Gortat was at -22 despite scoring 17 points and the potent backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal each sat at -20!
The Wizards may have gotten away with playing sub-par defense vs. some weak teams, but that would not fly vs. a team like the Pacers the way Indiana is playing right now, and Washington simply does not seem ready to improve in that defensive area just yet.
Enjoy Visiting Nation’s Capital
Finally, the Pacers have enjoyed their trips to our nation’s capital as of late as they are a perfect 5-0 ATS and 4-1 straight up in the last five head-to-head meetings in Washington. The Pacers are also a perfect 9-0 ATS in their last nine conference games, 6-0 ATS in their last six games vs. teams with winning records and 5-0 ATS in their last five road games! The Wizards meanwhile are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games vs. teams with winning records.
With Washington not really have a big home court advantage so far at only 3-2 straight up, look for the travelling Pacers who have been beating better teams than the Wizards have to be the team staying hot on the road on Tuesday.
NBA Pick: Pacers +2 (+100)