Tuesday night brings us one day closer to the NBA playoffs. With less than 15 games for most teams, each game becomes critical. We’ll take a look at two games happening tonight. First, the 76ers without Joel Embiid will visit Kemba Walker and the Hornets. After that, the Pacers will head to LA and take on the Clippers, an important game for both teams trying to move up in the standings. Read on to see the best picks for both games.
Game 1: Philadelphia 76ers (45-25) @ Charlotte Hornets (31-38)
The 76ers have narrowly beat the Hornets three times this season, winning by an average of just 2 points each game. All three games have been a boxing match between Kemba Walker and Joel Embiid, with Philly needing overtime to win in two of them. Tonight Embiid will sit for rest, opening the door for the Hornets to steal one from the 76ers.
Philly has played great basketball in the past week, picking up four straight victories and a win against Milwaukee in their last game. They now sit in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference and have now secured a playoff berth. The 76ers only play 3 playoff teams in their remaining 12 games, giving them quite an easy finish to the regular season.
- 17-16 on the road this season.
- Joel Embiid will not play tonight, taking the night off for rest. In the 3 victories this season, Embiid averaged 34 points and 14.7 rebounds.
- 5-7 in games played without Embiid in the lineup this season.
- Philadelphia is one of the higher turnover teams in the league, averaging 13.4 turnovers per game.
Charlotte finds themselves 2.5 games behind the Heat for a playoff spot, but they’ve failed to find any consistency this season, finding themselves 7 games under .500 after being 26-26 in early February. If they want any chance of making the 8 seed, they need to win every game from here on out.
- 21-14 at home this season.
- Just 5-12 in their last 17 games, with 3 of those wins coming against another non-playoff team, Washington.
- Kemba Walker has had the 76ers number all year, dropping 60 on them back in November. He is averaging 42.3 points against Philly in the 3 games they’ve played this year.
- Tony Parker will not play against the 76ers for resting purposes. Parker averaged just 3 points and 3.5 assists in 14.5 minutes in two losses against the 76ers this season.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers (Even)
Even though the 76ers should undoubtedly win this game, the betting line is even and it’s truly a pick ‘em here. Kemba Walker has been torching Philly all season, and Embiid has been returning fire to keep the Sixers 3-0 against Charlotte. With Embiid missing tonight’s game, the dynamic shifts dramatically. Still having Simmons, Butler, and Harris in the lineup, Philly shouldn’t have a problem tonight, but they’ve lost more than a handful of games they shouldn’t have this season. Still, expect the 76ers to win tonight.
Game 2: Indiana Pacers (44-27) @ Los Angeles Clippers (41-30)
After losing last night to the Trail Blazers, the slumping Pacers find themselves playing on the second night of a back-to-back against the Clippers. The Clippers have been on fire lately, finding themselves currently in 8th place in the West, but just 1 game behind San Antonio for the 5th seed. With Boston just a game behind the Pacers in the East, both teams need to win this game to secure playoff standings.
Indy really dropped the ball last night against the Trail Blazers, losing to a shorthanded Portland team without CJ McCollum. Myles Turner did have his highest scoring output of the season, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 8 point loss. His effort wasn’t enough for Damian Lillard’s cool 30 points and 15 assists. With consecutive losses, the Pacers are now a game and a half behind Philly for the 3rd seed, and just one game ahead of Boston for the 4th seed.
- 17-18 on the road this season.
- Won the last game against the Clippers, 116-92.
- Bojan Bogdanovic scored 29 points in the last matchup against the Clippers, and is easily capable of dropping 20+ any night.
- Currently 0-2 on a 4-game road trip, with the final game against Golden State.
The Clippers have turned their season around after the Tobias Harris trade, and now find themselves in prime position to move up as high as the 5th seed. They’ve seemed to distance themselves from Sacramento, making their own chance at the playoffs nearly inevitable. Now they need to win out if they want to avoid Golden State in the first round.
- 22-13 at home this season.
- 7-1 in their last 8 games, including victories against Boston and OKC.
- Lou Williams is averaging 24.3 points per game in the month of March.
- Danilo Gallinari has also been on fire, averaging 24 points and 7.3 assists in the same stretch.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -5.0
Indiana isn’t playing good basketball right now, while the Clippers are rolling. Throw in the fact that Indiana played last night and will likely be a little fatigued, this is LA’s game to lose. Nobody has expected the Clippers to play this well this season, but they’re here and they’re a real threat every night. It isn’t a surprise to see them as favorites in tonight’s matchup. Expect the Clippers to win tonight.