Two of the NBA’s top defensive teams, and two of the top teams in the Eastern conference, will meet in what should be an intriguing match-up on Friday night. The Indiana Pacers have the opportunity to officially lock up the third seed in the conference, while Brooklyn has the chance to keep that chase alive while guaranteeing home court advantage.
The reality is that these two teams will probably finish just about where they are right now, but this late season match-up that probably won’t see either coach rest players just yet might offer an interesting glimpse into the capabilities of these two teams. Both have shown flashes of being tough competitors, but both will potentially enter the 2013 NBA playoffs with more questions than answers.
Deron Williams has been playing ‘lights out’ basketball for Brooklyn over the past couple of weeks. He is averaging more than 25 points per game over the past 12 games and has generally been shooting the basketball and driving his team forward in the way that Nets’ fans hoped he would do and everyone knew he could do.
If Williams plays more like the superstar that he has the potential to be, then the Nets could become a more interesting proposition in the Eastern conference. It isn’t clear how much the injury ailed Joe Johnson will play in this game, if at all, but the shooting guards presence still remains a key, while big man Brooks Lopez has taken a positive step forward in his development this season. The next challenge for the 25-year old is to compete hard and find success in the NBA postseason.
Indiana has known for a while that Danny Granger isn’t coming back. That’s bad news for a team that isn’t particularly high scoring even when their top offensive player is in the line-up. The Pacers took the Miami Heat to six games last season and looked like the main challengers again this year, but having spent the entirety of 2012-13 waiting for Granger’s return, it looks like the players who have been holding the group together are just running out of gas.
The Pacers had a real let down after winning eight of nine including big road wins over Houston and the LA Clippers. They were walloped first by the Oklahoma City Thunder and then by the Washington Wizards. Paul George knocked down 27 points on Tuesday as Indiana pulled off a late comeback from a 20-point deficit against the Cleveland Cavaliers to avoid a fourth straight defeat.
Indiana still has a talented, skilled and tough line-up led by Paul George ad David West, but they need to find their game before the NBA playoffs kick off, because this isn’t a team performing at optimum level right now.
Betting Preview: Indiana (-5.5) vs. Brooklyn
The first reason that you should pick against this spread and go for Brooklyn at +5.5 is that this game should be a tightly-played defensive game and so that nearly six-point margin is likely to be pretty generous even for a pretty good Indiana team on home court. The second reason is that these two teams are only divided by three wins over 78 games. I expect them to be divided by fewer points in a match-up at this point in the season.
The final point is that if this game is blown wide open offensively then I fully expect to be the player guilty of inciting that to be Williams. He plays for Brooklyn by the way. I expect the Nets to win this match-up, though I don’t think it will make much difference in the overall race for seeding.
The Pick: Brooklyn (+5.5) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against The Spread: 10-4