Indiana Pacers vs. Brooklyn Nets (-2.5, 199 o/u)
The last days of the NBA season find five teams (Miami, Boston, Charlotte, Indiana, and Brooklyn) squaring off for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The latter two, the Indiana Pacers (32-41, 13-23 away) and Brooklyn Nets (32-40, 14-20 home), will square off tonight in a pivotal game with massive playoff implications (4:30 p.m. Eastern at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn).
The crowded standings have left all the teams feeling like the playoffs have already begun.
“It’s weird,” said Indiana Pacers guard C.J. Miles. “I’ve never been in a situation like this, where so many teams are one game, half-game [back]. Two losses can put you in 11th and two wins can put you in sixth. We know the importance. It’s like the [NCAA] tournament that’s going on right now. Win or go home. That’s the way we’ve got to treat it.”
Currently, the Pacers and Nets are both on the outside looking in. Indiana is tenth in the conference, half a game back of eight-place Boston. Brooklyn is tied for the eighth and final playoff spot, but sit ninth due to having played fewer games.
Indiana had moved into a playoff spot temporarily, but then lost six in a row. They have rebounded with two wins in their last three, including a 104-99 triumph over Dallas on Saturday. Miles had 28 points to lead the team, while guard George Hill added 14 and five assists in the win.
“Everyone’s got to put on their hard hats, go out there and continue to fight until the end of the game,” said Hill after the game.
As for the Nets, the squad beat the Lakers 107-99 on Sunday for its fourth straight win. Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez, who scored 30 points and added 11 rebounds. He’s been hot of late, averaging 28.8 PPG while shooting 61.5-percent over the last six games.
“Regardless of whatever the other team’s situation is, we’ve just got to prepare night in and night out,” said Lopez. “It’s all on us. We can put ourselves in the playoffs if we just stick with it.”
Added point guard Deron Williams, “[A]s long as we get in the playoffs we feel like we’ve got a shot.”
The Pacers are a solid 20-14-2 ATS on the road this year, while the Nets are just 11-21-2 ATS at home. Look for the Pacers to keep this playoff-type battle close tonight and continue their strong ATS road play.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Deron Williams) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)