Nets vs. Pacers Odds
|Moneyline||-360 / +280|
|Time||Thursday, 6 p.m. ET|
It’s a rare national television spot Thursday night for the Indiana Pacers — at least for whatever is left of this roster right now.
The poor Pacers have been banged up all season. They started the year with Victor Oladipo and T.J. Warren hurt. Warren never played a minute all season, while Oladipo was traded midseason for Caris LeVert who immediately missed two months when a small mass was found on his kidney. Thankfully, LeVert is back healthy and in the lineup, but now both Indiana big men are out, with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner sidelined.
Indiana is fighting to stay in the play-in race out East, and if they do stick around, this could well end up a first-round preview. So is there any reason to believe the Pacers can hang with the mighty Brooklyn Nets?
The Nets sit at 42-20, atop the East now with the finish line in sight. That East 1-seed is looking mighty tasty right now. It likely means playing a team like these Pacers in the first round instead of a team like the Celtics or Heat, and it could end up meaning a second-round matchup with the Knicks or Hawks while the 2- and 3- seeds duke it out, in this case, the Sixers and Bucks.
Suffice to say the Nets should have plenty of motivation to take care of business in a game like this where they are the far better team. The Nets are easy to summarize. They’re decent on the boards, decent on defense, decent in the turnover margin…. and all-world on offense. Duh, right? The Nets rank first in 2-point percentage and third in 3-point percentage, and they have the top-ranked Offensive Efficiency in the NBA, per Basketball Reference.
Of course, James Harden is still missing, but that still leaves Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Nets have been favored in all 13 games with KD and Kyrie but no Harden this season, but they’re only 7-6 straight up and 6-7 against the spread per Killer Sports. They’re getting a little better after struggling early, though, winning and covering in four of the last six such games.
You already know Nets games are high scoring, but they are crazy high scoring in these games with Durant and Irving but no Harden. It’s pretty clear Brooklyn is just determined to run and gun past its opponents in these games, which finish with an average score of 121.7 to 116.2. Brooklyn has scored at least 122 points in eight of the 13 games, and the game over has hit in six of the last eight.
When Brooklyn is involved, there will be points.
The Pacers are 29-32 on the season. And you know how the Nets were decent at a whole bunch of things but then really good at all the stuff on offense? The Pacers are mostly just decent at a bunch of things, but without the silver lining. Indiana ranks dead last in defensive rebounding and typically gets hammered on the boards even with Turner and Sabonis, and that problem has only been exacerbated without them.
The Pacers have been hanging tough with good defense, but the defense is far less reliable without Turner, who was one of the leading contenders for Defensive Player of the Year. Indiana still forces heaps of turnovers, and that could be a slight edge here against a Brooklyn team that gets sloppy at times, but it probably won’t be enough.
In case you need a refresher, the Pacers just lost by 21 their last time out to the corpse of the Portland Trail Blazers. Indiana got blown off the court, losing the third quarter 40 to 16 in embarrassing fashion. The Pacers started JaKarr Sampson and Oshae Brissett in that game and will probably start them again here as they remain shorthanded. It hasn’t been pretty.
With no Turner this season, the Pacers are 7-7 but hitting game overs 71 percent of the time. That’s 10 overs in 14 games without Turner and by an average of 9.75 points. At least one team has scored 122 or more points in all 10 of those game overs.
Turner, not Sabonis, is the key missing piece in this one. Indiana’s only real hope of hanging with top teams was its defense, and that defense has cratered without Turner. Indiana games are averaging 239.0 points when Turner is on the sidelines. And with Turner and Sabonis out and young big man Goga Bitadze questionable again too, Indiana has no real choice but to play smaller and faster, which plays right into the hands of the Nets.
The trends are all pointing in one direction: points, points, and more points.
The Pacers are playing smaller and faster and with much worse defense without Turner. The Nets play fast and carefree without Harden with a level of defense typically reserved only for All-Star Games. Indiana games have gone over in 10-of-14 without Turner. Brooklyn games without Harden have hit the over in six of the last eight.
This line is high at 241.5, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to swallow hard and take the over. With both these teams playing in games that average over 237 points per game in this specific injury status version of their team, I have to trust that the combo will make for some eye-popping scoring.
Pick: Over 241.5 (Play to 243)
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