Pacers and 76ers in Tight Battle for Playoff Spot
The Philadelphia 76ers and the Indiana Pacers battling today means one thing. The NBA is back in action, where before you know it we’ll have a full postseason and an NBA champion crowned in Orlando.
But before we get to that, the 22 teams returning to action will play eight seeding games over the next couple weeks. Two of those teams are the 76ers and Pacers, who will open up play against each other on Saturday.
Here is a preview for the 76ers and Pacers game, along with a free pick brought to you by Gameadvisers. As it currently stands, the 76ers are -5.5 favorites.
The 76ers are one of those teams that looks like a bonafide championship contender one game and then a team barely clinging on to a playoff spot the next game. Philly did manage 39-26, putting them comfortably in playoff position even before these eight “seeding” games. But they finished just fifth in the East, tied with their Pacer opponents.
Philadelphia managed to find some consistency on defense, where their defensive rating ranked seventh while their average steals were inside the top-10. However, the offensive rating was 17th, with a true shooting percentage that is among the lowest out of the remaining 22 clubs.
The Sixer offense runs through their big man Joel Embiid. Even though he missed some time on the court this season, he is dominant when he plays, averaging 23.4 points and just under 12 rebounds per game.
Along with Embiid is the tall point guard Ben Simmons, who despite not being a shooter still managed to average 16.7 points plus eight rebounds and eight assists. In his first full season with Philly, Tobias Harris played in every game and averaged over 19 points a night, while Josh Richardson and Al Horford each averaged double-digit points per game as well.
The Indiana Pacers are a team that many overlook in the East, but one who can hang with the best of them. Indiana was 7-3 over their last 10 games before the stoppage, finishing at 39-26 to tie themselves with Philadelphia. Saturday’s game will be the first step in breaking that tie as both teams vie for better seeding in the Eastern Conference.
Although Indiana ranked a mediocre 18th in offensive rating, they were efficient when they shot. Their 47.7 field goal percentage is the second highest in the NBA, while the 3-point percentage and free throw percentage are also solid. Their defensive rating is strong, ranking one spot ahead of the Sixers at No. 6.
The Pacers are led by a solid guard combo of Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon. Oladipo played just 13 games and averaged 13.8 points this season as he recovered from an injury sustained the previous year, but has been playing in the Orlando exhibition games.
Meanwhile, Brogdon also faced injuries but still averaged 16.3 points and seven assists. T.J. Warren led Indiana with 18.7 points per game during the regular season, while center Myles Turner also averaged close to 12 points. Their second-leading scorer, Domantas Sabonis, recently suffered an injury and won’t be a part of the Pacers’ playoff run.
Before Saturday’s meeting, the 76ers and Pacers had three games against each other during the season.The first was an exciting contest in Philadelphia in late November, when Embiid’s 32 points helped lead the Sixers to the 119-116 win.
However, that was the only win the Sixers would get against Indiana. A month after that game, Sabonis put up a 23 & 10 game as the Pacers cruised to a 115-97 win at home. Then a couple weeks later, Brogdon and Warren each finished with 21 points to lead Indiana to another win at home, this time a closer 101-95 affair.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Indiana Pacers Prediction
The Indiana Pacers will presumably have Oladipo playing in this game against the 76ers after he missed the previous three contests, but will also not have Sabonis. The big man had a great year for Indiana, and his absence will hurt against a Sixer team who has maybe the tallest starting five in the NBA.
I’m picking the 76ers to win, but I believe this game will be incredibly close, coming down to the final minute of action, as both teams aim to break the tie between them by earning a win.
Head over to Pay per head247 and bet on the Pacers +5.5.