The first day of August brings a marquee matchup between two Eastern Conference foes, and the stake is huge for both Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers. These two rivals are tied for the No. 5 seed in the east, so their Saturday night showdown should provide plenty of excitement.
The Pacers have won two of their three encounters with the Sixers this season while covering on all three occasions. Let’s see if they can upset the Sixers at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The tip-off is set at 7:00 PM ET.
The 76ers are without PG Raul Neto (back), while SF Glen Robinson III is questionable due to a calf injury. The Pacers miss Domantas Sabonis (foot), Jeremy Lamb (knee), and Goga Bitadze (knee), while Victor Oladipo is questionable to play.
Phila is a 5.5-point fave at the moment, according to BetAmerica and William Hill. The money line odds on the Sixers sit at -230, while the Pacers are listed as +190 underdogs to win straight up. The total has been set at 213.0 points on Sugarhouse and BetMGM.
What’s at Stake?
There’s a lot on the table for both Sixers and Pacers. They entered the bubble tied for the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference, while the fourth-seeded Miami Heat is just a couple of games ahead.
However, keep in mind that No. 4 or No. 5 seed will eventually take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the semis. On the other side, the sixth-seeded team will avoid the mighty Bucks until the conference finals. Therefore, I’m not sure what Phila and Indiana want here.
The teams are coming back from a very long break, and I cannot stress enough how much it could affect their performance. The sports bettors cannot rely on the current form, while a few scrimmages over the last week won’t help either.
The 76ers meet the Pacers for the fourth and final time this regular season. Phila is only 1-2 straight up and 0-3 ATS against Indiana. After a 119-116 home win as 6.5-point favorites, the 76ers lost twice at the Pacers 115-97 and 101-95 as 3.5-point underdogs on both occasions.
The Pacers are 13-6 SU and ATS in their last 19 encounters with the Sixers. The under has hit in eight of their previous nine head-to-head duels.
Considering the stats, this should be a very tight clash. The Sixers are 17th in the league in points scored per 100 possessions (110.4), and the Pacers are right behind them (110.3). On the other side of the ball, the 76ers allow 108.2 points per 100 possessions (6th in the NBA), while the Pacers surrender 108.3 points per 100 possessions (7th).
Furthermore, the Sixers average 98.8 possessions per 48 minutes (19th), while the Pacers play at a slightly slower pace with 98.5 possessions per 48 minutes (23rd).
Domantas Sabonis’ absence is a huge blow for the Pacers. He’s their best rebounder with 12.4 boards per contest, while Sabonis is averaging 18.5 points and 5.0 assists a night. Without Domantas’ help, the Pacers will have a tall task to defend Joel Embiid (23.4 PPG, 11.8 RPG).
Despite Sabonis’ injury, I think the Pacers will manage to keep it close. They are a hard-working team and possess the solid depth to keep pressuring Phila on the defensive end for all 48 minutes. Anyway, I don’t feel comfortable with a 5.5-point spread, so I suggest you buy a couple of points and take the Pacers as 7.5-point underdogs on BetAmerica.
Betting on the under seems like a logical move, as both teams can play good defense, while neither side prefers to push the ball in transition a lot. Also, I think the Pacers will try to slow down the tempo as much as they can. The betting trends suggest the under, too.