Nothing like a six month hiatus to get you pumped up for an eight game finale to the playoffs, right? In the NBA’s first weekend back in action since early March, fans and bettors are in for a treat. The NBA’s matchmakers did a great job in giving us some fantastic matchups.
Saturday night in prime time, the Philadelphia 76ers prepare to dance with the Indiana Pacers. Both teams head into the contest with the same record, 39-26. They trail the Bucks by 14.5 games in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers have won 2 of their previous 3 games against the Sixers this season, which is why the Pacers are in fifth and the Sixers are a spot behind in sixth. This matchup is set to be a good one, so grab the popcorn, tip-off is at 7:00 ET on Fox Sports Midwest.
A huge factor headed into this Eastern Conference showdown is health. The Sixers are healthy(for once). The Pacers are not. A healthy Sixers team spells trouble for pretty much any team in the East when they are in rhythm, let alone a banged up team coming off of a six month break.
At the same time, rust will play a factor in the Sixers game plan as well. This is also their first game in the bubble. Led by the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Philly added to their roster this season and have become a formidable playoff opponent.
Al Horford and Josh Richardson combine for 26 points, over 10 rebounds, over 7 assists, and 2 steals per game. No minor contributions. Of course, Embiid and Simmons are doing their thing, and Tobias Harris is averaging nearly 20 per game as well. They’re solid up and down.
Restarting The Pace
Remember that health thing we talked about in passing earlier. Well, the Pacers may have some major issues to start their bubble games. Victor Oladipo’s injury has been well documented throughout the season. Oladipo has only played in 00 games this season.
The Pacers are expected to make a statement on his injury before the game Saturday. It’s highly unlikely that he plays Saturday, but that is unknown at this time. But that may not be their only issue…
Damontis Sabonis, Myles Turner, and Malcolm Brogdon we’re both listed day to day as of Friday night. Sabonis for a foot injury, Turner for a calf injury, and Brogdon with a cervical strain.
Although there is little chance that all miss the game, it certainly makes it scarier to place your bets early. You may want to wait until closer to tip off.
Rolling the Dice
This pick will be made assuming that at least Brogdon and Turner are playing. The social media detectives seem to think that will be the case, but as I said, wait until lineups are out to make your bet.
BetOnline has the Sixers as a -5.5 point favorite headed into the game. The over/under is set at 217.5, and the Pacers are at (+200) on the money line.
Philly is one of the worst teams in the league against the spread. They’re 28-33-4, only covering 45.9% of the time. The Pacers are not only 2-1 against the Sixers this season, but are on the opposite end of the spectrum against the spread. They’re 34-28-3, covering 54.8% of the time.
Expect the Pacers trends to continue. Even crippled, the Pacers are scrappy enough to take this game which could get sloppy. They can at least keep it within 6. Take the Pacers at +5.5 and under 217.5. Good luck.