Eastern Conference titans will collide when the Indiana Pacers host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. These two teams are both near the top of the Eastern Conference and will likely have a say in who advances to the NBA Finals. The Pacers and Sixers have split their first two games against each other this season.
The Indiana Pacers have won nine of their last 11 games and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Indiana is just two games in back of the Milwaukee Bucks in the Central division, but are closing the gap quickly. Philadelphia brings a 29-16 record into this game, but are still looking for a long winning streak. The Pacers are -3.5 in this game against the 76ers.
Pacers Solid In All Aspects
The Pacers don’t have the best roster in the NBA, but they have a very “solid” team. Indiana has shown the ability to win close games this season, and they have gone 14-5 at home. The Pacers are holding teams to just 103 points per game, which is the second best defense in the NBA. Center Myles Turner is averaging close to 3.0 rebounds per game to anchor the defense, but the Pacers have a ton of elite defenders.
Another big reason for the sudden surge by the Pacers has been the emergence of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo is averaging 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game this season and is the guy that makes all of the clutch shots for the Pacers. Indiana only averages 109 points per game, but they have plenty of ways to put points on the board. The Pacers are an underrated team that will be hard to beat come playoff time.
Sixers Ready For Tough Stretch
This game kicks off a very difficult stretch of schedule for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers will play their next 12 games against teams that have a .500 record or better. Philadelphia has been able to feast on weaker teams this season, but they must find a way to string some wins together against the better teams in the league. The Sixers are averaging over 115.4 points per game, but are also giving up 112. Philly needs to get better on the defensive end of the floor if they are going to move up in the East.
Sixers center Joel Embiid continues to put up monster numbers to lead the team. Embiid is averaging 27.0 points and 13.3 assists per game this season and will be an All-Star next month. Shooting guard Jimmy Butler has been solid since arriving in Philadelphia, putting up 18.7 points per game, but has also caused some drama off of the court. The Sixers will need Butler to find a way to mesh with his teammates to make a deep playoff run.
Indiana Shuts Down Confident Sixers
The 76ers have the more talented roster, but they haven’t always played up to their talent on the floor. If the Sixers are going to win this game, they are going to have to lock in on both ends of the floor. The Pacers have been playing great basketball of late, and they will stay hot in this game. Bet the Indiana Pacers -3.5 over the Philadelphia 76ers.