Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers Betting Predictions

Pacers vs Wizards Play-In
Washington vs. Indiana, NBA Playoffs Betting Predictions, May 20

One play-in game to decide the final NBA playoffs spot in the Eastern Conference, and the two teams are the ones who tied for the eighth seed in the East. The Washington Wizards won the tiebreaker to face Boston in one play-in game and suffered a tough loss, while Indiana dispatched Charlotte in the other. On Thursday, someone is going to earn the right to face Philadelphia in the first round, and I have a feeling it will be Washington.

Wizards vs. Pacers Betting Odds

It feels like justice for the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers to be meeting in the final play-in game in the Eastern Conference. The two teams tied for the No. 8 seed in the conference with identical 34-38 records this season, but it was the Wizards who won the tiebreaker by sweeping the season series. The tiebreaker didn’t do Washington any favors as they lost to Boston on Tuesday night while Indiana demolished Charlotte to set up Thursday’s matchup with the winner becoming the true No. 8 seed and facing Philadelphia in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.

Not only did the Wizards win all three games against the Pacers this season, two of those wins came this month. Washington won an absurdly high-scoring regulation game on May 3 at home then followed it up with a tight overtime win in Indianapolis five days later. It was clear the Wizards were off offensively against the Celtics as they combined for just 17 assists on 40 made baskets. Russell Westbrook had just five assists, his fewest since having five in a loss against Dallas in early April while Bradley Beal scored just 22 points, his fewest since April 30. If those two guys aren’t executing at a high level, there isn’t much chance for Washington to succeed. The good news is both Beal and Westbrook had major success against the Pacers this month. Westbrook had 24 assists and 21 rebounds in the home win on May 3 then added 33 points, 15 assists and 19 rebounds in the overtime victory in Indiana. In that same overtime win, Beal dropped 50 points and made 19 of his 31 shots from the floor.

It seems unfair for the Pacers to be judged Thursday based on their performance against Charlotte on Tuesday. Everything that could have went right did for Indiana as it thrashed the Hornets and scored 144 points, the second-highest total of the season. This came despite the fact Caris LeVert was unavailable due to health and safety protocols, which means he will likely be out again Thursday against Washington. The good news for the Pacers is Malcolm Brogdon returned to action Tuesday and scored an efficient 16 points in 21 minutes of action. If Brogdon is able to return to the form that averaged 21 points and six assists in the regular season while shooting 45 percent from the field then the Pacers might be able to keep pace with Washington’s high-scoring duo.

What ultimately did in Washington against Boston was an abnormally poor shooting performance from behind the arc and an incredible individual performance by Jayson Tatum. Washington isn’t going to win games by shooting the lights out from 3-point range, but it also isn’t going to make just 3 of 21 from behind the arc too often. The Pacers also don’t own a player like Tatum who can take over a game, so I’m comfortable following the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey for this game. Those basketball betting sites in New Jersey have installed the Wizards as 3.5-point favorites, and I think that is probably the right spread for this contest. But I want to take a risk, so I’m searching on the alternate spreads and adding some juice by betting on Washington laying 7.5 points at +180 odds. On a player-specific level, I’m following my gut and picking Westbrook to score at least 25 points in the victory for +200 odds on the NBA betting sites in New Jersey.

Washington Indiana
888Sport
-159 +133
BetMGM
-155 +130
FanDuel
-156 +132

My Prediction

Washington -3.5 Points

Let’s be honest, the Pacers were exceptional on Tuesday against Charlotte, dominating that game from start to finish. The Wizards had some trouble with Boston, but it was the 50 points from Jayson Tatum that really proved to be the difference. Indiana simply doesn’t have a dominant scorer like Tatum and I don’t think their insane offensive performance is sustainable. I like the Wizards to bounce back with a win to take the No. 8 seed in the East.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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