Two teams within a game of each other in the Eastern Conference get set to square off in the December 31st NBA free betting pick. Philadelphia is a game up on the Pacers for the #5 seed and both teams have ridden strong home records to their successful 2019 campaigns. You’d think that would give Indiana the edge being at Bankers Life Fieldhouse where they are 14-3 on the year, but Philly is a -1.5 favorite on Tuesday.
Sixers in a Mini Skid
Philadelphia has had the last two nights off, which should be huge heading into the December 31st NBA free betting pick. The 76ers have dropped consecutive 1-point games on back-to-back nights. Those include a 97-98 defeat in Orlando on Friday followed by a 116-117 OT defeat at Miami on Saturday.
Per usual, Joel Embiid should be the key vs. Indiana on Tuesday afternoon. The Sixers big man has 30+ points in 2 of his last 3 and has grabbed 11 rebounds in three straight. Embiid also has battled foul trouble in each of the last three, finishing with 5 PFs. Indiana ranks 27th defensively vs. the C position and could see some struggles on the inside.
Will a big performance from Embiid be enough in this one though? This is a matchup of two of the top 10 defensive efficiency teams in the league and Indiana has also had the last two nights off. Tobias Harris has had his struggles shooting, going 5-15 at Miami and Ben Simmons hasn’t gone for more than 17 in the last six games and missed Monday’s practice with an illness. Could this one be a low scoring affair (O/U 212) especially with the weird 3:00 PM EST New Year’s Eve start time?
Does Pacers Home Court Give Them the Edge Here?
Tuesday’s tilt is a game of contradictions as Indiana has been great at home (14-3 on the year) but have also struggled overall vs. the Sixers. Philadelphia has won three straight in this series as well as 4 of the last 5 overall. That includes a 119-116 76ers home win at the end of November in which Embiid went for 32 and 11.
Indiana would get a huge boost in this game if Malcolm Brogdon can return from a hamstring injury. Brogdon is shooting just 36% from the floor over his last 5 and has also made less than 25% of his three pointers over that span. He’s also averaging 8+ assists per game and put up 28 points in the loss to Philadelphia earlier in the year.
Indiana has two players that could be the difference makers in this one. Domantas Sabonis has grabbed 16+ rebounds in three of the last four and could be a great neutralizer against Embiid down low (when Myles Turner isn’t guarding the Sixers C). TJ Warren has also scored 20+ in 3 of the last 5. Even Aaron Holiday could be a great x-factor as he had 25 points Saturday with Brogdon out.
December 31st NBA Free Betting Pick
Both teams come in off 2 days rest. Who gets the benefit from it being an early start and it being New Year’s Eve also? The Pacers are just so good at home and will get a huge benefit if Brogdon is able to return. Have to like Indiana here.
Pick: Indiana Pacers +1.5