NBA Lower Seed Battle: Indiana Pacers At Philadelphia 76ers

Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers
January 11th, 2011 at 7:00 PM EST
Opening Line:  Philadelphia -4
Current Line:  Philadelphia -5
Opening Total: 194
Current Total: 194
Moneyline:  Philadelphia -210 / Indiana +188

Iguodala should be returning from injury tonight

Things just have not been going well for the Pacers.  They’ve dropped three straight, won just 3 of their last 10 and they are riding a 9 game road losing streak.  It’s unlikely to be broken tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

While Philadelphia has cooled from a hot streak that they reeled off in which they held opponents to under 40% FG, they are still in the playoff hunt, sitting at the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 15-22 record.  What works more in their favor, however, is the fact that they are at home where they are 10-6 on the year.  They’ve also won 9 of their last 11 at home.

The Sixers may be getting star swingman Andre Iguodala back for tonight’s game, and while things have been going relatively well without him, they will probably go even better with his return.  Point guard Jrue Holiday commented, “We’re definitely starting to feel each other right now and we have a lot of confidence,” he said. “(Andre) is definitely one of the players who knows how to go with the flow.”  While Argentine forward Andres Nocioni filled in admirably for Iguodala, he doesn’t bring the same lockdown defense and athleticism that Iguodala brings to the table…

Some betting trends:

The total  has gone UNDER in 8 of Indy’s last 9 games and they are 1-6 SU in their last 7 games.  They are 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 games and the total has gone UNDER in 5 of Indy’s last 6 road games.  They are 0-5 SU in their last 5 on the road and 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 road games.  Indiana is 4-2 SU in their last 6 games against the Sixers.  The total has gone UNDER in all 5 of the last 5 games against Philadelphia.  Indy is 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 road games against the Sixers and the total has gone UNDER In 5 of the last 5 games on the road against them.

The total has gone OVER In 6 of Philly’s last 7 games and it has gone OVER IN 6 of their last 8 at home.  The Sixers are 9-2 SU in their last 11 at home and they are 2-4 SU In their last 6 against Indy.  The total has gone UNDER In 5 of the last 5 against the Pacers, and they are 2-5-1 ATS in the last 8 against them.  Philly is 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 home games against Indiana.

Key Matchups:

Darren Collison vs. Jrue Holiday

This is a battle of two second year point guards that came from a point guard stacked 2009 NBA draft.  Both had superb ends to last season, and while expectations were extremely high for both coming into this season, they have come close to or met those expectations for the most part.  Collison certainly may have set the bar a bit high for himself after averaging 19 points per game and 9 assists per game while Chris Paul was out, but he hasn’t been a bust for the Pacers either with averages of 13.3 points per game, 4.3 assists per game, and 3.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 37% from downtown and getting a steal per game as well.  Holiday has better stats, but he is also playing more 6 more minutes a game than Collison with 35 minutes a night and averages of 14.7 ppg, 6.7 apg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.4 spg.  They are both lightning quick and elemental to their teams’ success.  The winner of this battle will go a long way towards ensuring victory for his team.

Danny Granger vs. Andre Iguodala (?)

Iguodala should be returning from injury, but if he is unable to go it will again be Andres Nocioni starting at small forward.  We’re going to operate under the assumption that Iguodala plays.  If you’ve been following my prop bets you would have noticed that every time a player goes up against Iguodala at the small forward position, I choose ‘under’ and every time it has proven to be right.  He’s kept LeBron, Durant, Rudy Gay…and yes, Danny Granger, under wraps.  Granger did score 22 last game against the Sixers, but seldom does anyone have a HUGE game against Iguodala.  He’s simply too difficult to drive around and he contests every shot because he has the speed to make sure he can recover if they put the ball on the floor.

Tonight’s game probably won’t be as close as NBA oddsmakers have set the line.  I expect it to shift another point in Philadelphia’s favor to -6 or even -6.5 by tonight, and it has already shifted from -4 to  -5.  Iguodala’s return and the fact that they are at home should bring a win by near or at double digits.

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