The first day of April is all about the Eastern Conference, with 13 of the 18 teams playing tonight located in the East. There are now only 10 days of regular season action remaining and just 5 teams still trying to qualify for the playoffs. 2 of those 5 teams play in the games we’ll look at tonight, read on to see betting odds and your best picks!
Game 1: Detroit Pistons (39-37) @ Indiana Pacers (45-32)
The Pistons and the Pacers are about to get quite comfortable with each other, considering they play tonight and again in 2 days. Both teams have won a game so far, evening the season series at 1-1. Detroit won last time, but record-wise the Pacers are the superior team coming into the match tonight.
The Pistons have managed to retain sole possession of the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re just a ½ game ahead of Brooklyn, and only 1 game ahead of 8th place Miami. They don’t have a chance to move upwards, which is really unfortunate considering finishing anywhere between 6th and 8th will land you Milwaukee, Toronto, or Philadelphia in the first round. Assuming they finish with the 6th seed, they’ll square off against the 76ers.
- 14-24 on the road this season, the worst of any playoff team (tied with San Antonio).
- Just 2-3 in their last 5 games, winning the last two, but dropping the three prior to that. They went 17-9 during the months of February and March.
- Reggie Jackson has not played well against the Pacers this year, averaging just 11 points on 24% shooting, down from his season average of 15.4 points on 43% shooting.
- Blake Griffin is out for tonight’s game with a knee injury. Griffin has also struggled offensively against Indy this season, averaging just 19 points on 38% shooting, but contributed in other ways by averaging 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in their 2 games.
- Detroit has been phenomenal as a cover team lately. They’ve covered the point spread the last 6 games in a row, and have covered 8 of their last 10 games overall.
The Pacers were cursed with a tough schedule to finish out the regular season, and it’s certainly showing on their overall record. Indiana has been the OKC of the East this year, starting off the season red hot, but fumbling mightily down the stretch. They have the same record as Boston, but find themselves as the 5th seed as they don’t own the head to head tiebreaker. With only 4 games left after tonight, can Indiana steal back home court for the first round?
- Very good at home this year, standing at 28-10.
- Only 1-7 in their last 8 games, but each game was against a playoff team (besides Orlando, who is right on the cusp of 8th).
- Two players to keep an eye on: Domantas Sabonis and Bojan Bogdanovic. In the 2 games against Detroit this season, Sabonis is averaging 21 points and 9 rebounds on 71% shooting, while Bogdanovic is averaging 18.5 on 54% shooting (although he has struggled from downtown).
- Wesley Matthews is questionable to play tonight with a hamstring strain.
- Mediocre cover team lately, failing to cover the point spread last game. They’ve covered the spread only 4 of their last 10 games.
Pick: Indiana Pacers -6.5
Honestly, if Blake Griffin was playing tonight, I’d be picking the Pistons here. Without him, Detroit is missing their leader and biggest offensive threat. They’re running into a Pacer team that desperately needs a win, having lost 7 of their last 8 games. I don’t think the Pistons will manage to keep the spread lower than 7 without Blake, so the Pacers will get a freebie here. Expect Indiana to win tonight.
Game 2: Miami Heat (38-38) @ Boston Celtics (45-32)
Tonight’s game is important for both squads, each hoping to secure their seeding for the playoffs. Boston wants to keep 4th away from Indy, while Miami sits precariously in 8th and wants to avoid Orlando or possibly knock off Brooklyn for 7th. Just a few short years ago, this matchup used to be an intense rivalry between Lebron and an elite Big 3 Celtics squad. Okay, maybe it was more than a few years ago. Now it’s just two teams that play each other four times a year.
The Heat have played fantastic lately, and for their efforts are rewarded with the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re a ½ game behind Brooklyn for 7th, and a ½ game ahead of Orlando to keep 8th. Either way, they’re the most likely of the 3 teams vying for the 8th seed to actually make the playoffs. Finishing with the 8th seed will earn them a first round date with Milwaukee.
- 20-17 on the road this year, actually playing better away from home this year.
- In the month of March, Miami went 11-4, erasing their fears of completely missing the postseason.
- Watch out for Dion Waiters! No, that’s actually not an April fools joke. Waiters is averaging 22.5 points on 48% shooting the last 4 games, up from his season average of 11.7 points on 42% shooting.
- Josh Richardson, who is leading the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game, will be out tonight with a heel injury. Justise Winslow is also out.
- Fantastic as a cover team lately, covering the point spread their last 2 games, and 7 of their last 10 overall.
The Celtics haven’t played very well all season, but they’ve struggled particularly as of late. Despite that, the Pacers have played even worse, which has granted Boston the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have clearly shown they have the talent and capability to be an elite team this season, but they’ve also shown a tendency to not try very hard. Looking at their record, they have several win streaks, but also have several (albeit fewer) losing streaks.
- 27-12 at home this season.
- Only 2-5 in their last 7 games played, although only 2 of those games came against non-playoff opponents.
- Kyrie Irving should be set to return tonight after resting against Brooklyn. Uncle Drew has been a madman lately, scoring 30 points or more in all but 1 of his last 7 games.
- Al Horford is probable to play tonight, suffering from knee soreness. The big man has been huge offensively lately, averaging 20 points on 57% shooting across the last 4 games.
- Boston has been a terrible cover team lately, failing to cover the point spread in 4 of their last 5 games, and only covering 2 of their last 10 games overall.
Pick: Boston Celtics -7.0
Much like the previous game, if Josh Richardson was playing tonight, I’d be picking Miami. Without the scoring of Richardson and the defense of Winslow, the Heat will struggle to contain a dangerous Celtics team with several threats. Unfortunately for Miami, Kyrie Irving is back tonight and he’s been on a scoring rampage. He might not go for 30+ again tonight, but he’ll calmly lead the Celtics to an easy victory at home. Expect Boston to win tonight.