Friday Night NBA on ESPN Odds: Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards

Wall and Beal have been an elite backcourt for seasons, but now are clicking at a new rate of brilliance.

Indiana at Washington
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: WAS -5
Total: 214.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Washington Wizards are the team of the moment in the Eastern Conference, and the Wiz have proven unstoppable at home, where they will host the Indiana Pacers tonight in the first game of an ESPN doubleheader.

Washington is 22-7 at home this season and enters the game as 5-point favorites against an Indiana Pacers team treading water at 29-23 and sitting in the lower half of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, at the No. 6 seed.

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Washington

Washington is not a team without its problems, namely a severe lack of depth and bench scoring, but the overall brilliance of its backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal has kept the Wizards rolling. Washington has won eight of its past 10 SU and trails No. 2 Boston by just 2.5 games with plenty of season remaining. A win tonight would only further that cause as Boston is similarly hot and both teams chase the Cleveland Cavaliers atop the East’s standings. The Wizards did have their 16-game home winning streak snapped by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but a new streak can begin tonight against a Pacers team that has mostly disappointed this season.

The Wizards did have their 16-game home winning streak snapped by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but a new streak can begin tonight against a Pacers team that has mostly disappointed this season.

To be sure, Beal has been on fire lately. The former Florida Gator is averaging 22.4 points per game on the season, and over the last 10 he has been good for 24.3 points on 52 percent shooting. He has also upped his playmaking, averaging 4.0 assists per game over the last 10 while playing nearly 36 minutes a night. That preseason chatter of he and John Wall not “getting along” on the court seems to have mostly dissipated throughout this run by Washington. The play of center Marcin Gortat has been equally as vital, with Gortat functioning as one of the premier pick and roll centers in the Association—on both ends of the court.

That preseason chatter of he and John Wall not “getting along” on the court seems to have mostly dissipated throughout this run by Washington. The play of center Marcin Gortat has been equally as vital, with Gortat functioning as one of the premier pick and roll centers in the Association—on both ends of the court.

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Gortat’s statistics do not pop out. He is averaging a humble 12 points and 11 rebounds per game, but he shoots 59.4 recent from the field and finishes the pick and roll with Wall to near perfection. Wall is averaging 10.5 assists per game and having a phenomenal season, and now with the Wiz gaining some momentum, some long-needed recognition is coming to the perennial All-Star.

Could this be the season the Wizards break-through and make a substantial playoff run?

Probably not.

Even all these glowing things that can be said about the play of Wall, Beal and Gortat is utterly negated by the Wizards’ horrible bench. Its top reserve Marcus Thornton is little more than a shot chucker, and Kelly Oubre Jr. has not developed enough consistency to be a reliable threat off the bench either. Jason Smith is coming off a career season in Orlando last year, but he has been mostly a disappointment this year in a Wizards uniform. That same theme of disappointment runs through the seasons of Trey Burke and Andrew Nicholson as well. Tomas Satoransky has been one bright spot off the bench, but his good play occurs mostly in flashes and he is still seeing just 14 minutes per game and attempting under three shots per contest. He is a long-term project on a bench full of non-prospects, so that is saying something—but not much.

Even all these glowing things that can be said about the play of Wall, Beal and Gortat is utterly negated by the Wizards’ horrible bench. Its top reserve Marcus Thornton is little more than a shot chucker, and Kelly Oubre Jr. has not developed enough consistency to be a reliable threat off the bench either. Jason Smith is coming off a career season in Orlando last year, but he has been mostly a disappointment this year in a Wizards uniform.

 

For Washington to take the next step towards contention, it will have to build a reliable second unit, and that can likely only be done via trades and roster moves this offseason. That said, the Wiz are the hottest team in the East and will be a tough second round out, assuming they can dispose of whichever team they draw and maintain their place with home court advantage now.

Paul George is posting a PER under 20.00 this season and the Pacers are just six games above .500.

Indiana

The Indiana Pacers have been mostly a disappointment this season, and the firing of Frank Vogel may have plenty to do with it, not to mention the substitution of Jeff Teague as the starting point guard. Despite Indiana still being equally as talented as last year’s team on paper, it just has not translated to overwhelming success on the court, and the Pacers have mostly the look of a .500 fodder team at this point. Indy is just 9-16 on the road this season and it most recently had its seven-game win streak snapped by the same team that defeated Washington: The vaunted Cavaliers.

Despite Indiana still being equally as talented as last year’s team on paper, it just has not translated to overwhelming success on the court, and the Pacers have mostly the look of a .500 fodder team at this point. Indy is just 9-16 on the road this season and it most recently had its seven-game win streak snapped by the same team that defeated Washington: The vaunted Cavaliers.

That said, how much can be read into Indy’s recent success? The streak included knocking off three teams well below .500 (Orlando, Sacramento and Brooklyn) and the only real quality wins were over the enigmatic Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win-streak could just as be easily attributed to schedule variation as any sort of improvements on the part of the Pacers.

Myles Turner has had a fine season, but perhaps more was expected of the second-year center than 15 points and seven boards per game. Paul George has been in cruise mode and has not looked like an elite swingman after a stellar season a year ago. And Jeff Teague has been solid, but unspectacular with averages of 16 points and eight assists per game. All in all, Indy is a good team, a playoff team, and some sort of second-round contender, but it is tough to find much reason to believe in a core of players who seem to care so little about actually dominating games.

George’s 22.5 points per game ring hollow given his lack of intensity, and the bench is an odd amalgam of discarded veterans like Month Ellis and Al Jefferson, who only have nights of looking like the players they once were. The Pacers may continue to be stuck in this bubble position for quite some time, unless, of course, they decide to scrap the whole thing and build around Turner.

There are worse players to start a rebuild around than a 6’11” forward who can step out on offense and defend all over the court. Indy certainly is not going to make any quantum leaps with this current roster, and while Washington is in a similar place with a very mediocre bench, the Wizards should be able to take care of business on its home court to eke out a win over an Indy team whose desire just does not match its talent levels.

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Posted by on Feb 10 2017. Filed under Headlines, NBA. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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