Pacers vs Wizards Preview: Will the Favored Wizards Move On to Face the Top-Seeded Sixers?

Eddie Griffin

There are two more NBA playoff spots to be decided via the play-in tournament, and one of them will be decided in tonight’s Pacers vs Wizards clash.

The Pacers scored the biggest win in the first four play-in games, trouncing the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday in the #9 vs #10 elimination game. Now they hit the nation’s capital to take on the #8 Wizards. The Wizards dropped into this winner-take-all game with a loss to the Boston Celtics in the #7 vs #8 game.

The Wizards are 3-0 against the Pacers this season, but will they make it 4-0? If they do, they will book a first-round matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers should be high on confidence after Tuesday’s win and have been solid on the road this season. But the Wizards have lost only once at home in their last 10 home games. That sizzling stretch helped them be one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the last month of the regular season.

So, Pacers or Wizards? Here’s a look at tonight’s matchup.

Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards, TNT, 8:00 pm ET

Regular Season Betting Statistics: Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards

  • Indiana Pacers: 34-38 SU, 32-40 ATS, 44-27-1 O/U
  • Washington Wizards: 34-38 SU, 41-30-1 ATS, 36-36 O/U

Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards Betting Odds

  • Spread: Pacers +3.5 (-114), Wizards -3 (-106)
  • Total: OVER 237.5 (-110), UNDER 237.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Pacers +134, Wizards -158

Pacers vs Wizards odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Thursday, May 20 at 8:00 am ET. For more NBA betting odds, check out our NBA odds page. It features updated odds from FanDuel and other top online sportsbooks.

Indiana Issues Statement of Intent in Resounding Rout of Hornets

Heading into Tuesday’s Pacers vs Hornets matchup, was there really much reason to believe in the Pacers? Based on their regular season and a terrible home record, there was not.

In fact, Tuesday’s result outweighed a Hornets win in the surprise stakes, even though the Hornets entered the play-in with five straight losses to end the regular season.

The Pacers jumped on the Hornets early, and the game was all but over shortly after it started. The hosts jumping out to a 10-point lead less than four minutes in, and the Hornets were never within single digits again. When the clock finally hit triple zero, the Pacers had ended the Hornets’ season with a 144-117 romp. The Hornets ended the game on an 11-0 run in the final two and a half minutes with the Pacers having no need to pile on more misery, making a 27-point final scoreline a rather generous one.

Given the recent headlines about issues between the players and coach Nate Bjorkgren, a season full of substandard results, and their poor home record, the Pacers appeared to be in peril. Would motivation be an issue? And that wasn’t even considering their long list of injury concerns. But Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Holiday, Domantas Sabonis, and Edmond Sumner, who were all listed as questionable on the day of the game, all took the floor and had a hand in the rout.

Pacers’ Chances Boosted By Regular Season Road Success

After serving an emphatic reminder of their potential, can Indiana put together another strong performance to finally beat Washington?

While they were only 13-23 at home in the regular season, they were 21-15 on the road. Statistically, they have been a much stronger team on the road. They averaged more points (117.8 to 112.8 at home), shot better (48.3 percent to 46.7 percent at home), and were more dangerous from outside (37.9 percent to 34.8 percent at home). Defense, while not stellar, was also better in all of those categories.

However, it does have to be noted that the balance of their road wins came against lesser competition. Their only notable road win in April and May was against the Memphis Grizzlies, who were 18-18 at home in the regular season.

Wizards Must Quickly Refocus After Tatum’s Stunning Second Half Onslaught in Boston

The Wizards have proven their mettle over the course of the season, without a doubt. But tonight will be the biggest test of their mettle this season. After letting an opportunity slip away against the Celtics, they must quickly regroup and refocus. The Wizards held a two-point halftime lead, but Jayson Tatum and the Celtics took control in the third quarter and strolled to a 118-100 win.

Sometimes scorers start scoring, and the answer fails to come for whatever reason. But the Wizards can’t afford to shoot 43.5 percent from the field again. That is well below the 47.5 percent they shot in the regular season, which was a respectable 10th in the NBA. The Wizards were 11-22 SU in the regular season when they shot below 47.5 percent.

Nor can they go 3 for 21 from three again, which was their worst outside shooting performance of the season. Despite their affinity for scoring, the Wizards don’t live and die by the three. They ranked 29th in the NBA in attempts per game, 28th in makes per game, and 23rd in shooting percentage from deep. Even so, 3 for 21 will not cut it. Davis Bertans, one of the league’s most prolific outside shooters, missed all seven of his attempts. It was only the sixth time in 58 games this season that he failed to make a three in a game.

Washington’s Stars Need to Shine for Wizards to Move On

More than anything, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook must be themselves. Westbrook had only five assists against the Celtics. In the regular season, he had five or fewer assists only four times. He entered the play-in with at least nine assists in his previous 24 games.

Beal, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury, made only 10 of 25 from the field and scored only 22 points. It was his second subpar shooting performance after he went 8 for 27 in the regular season finale against the Hornets.

Why is that a factor? Counting Tuesday night, his shooting percentage has been 40 percent or worse only 15 times in 61 overall games this season. In fact, he has more than twice as many (32) games of shooting 50 percent or better. If he can shoot closer to the career-high 48.5 percent he shot in the regular season, it bodes well for the Wizards. In the regular season, they went 19-13 SU when he shot 48.5 percent or better. That includes an 11-6 mark at home.

Will the Wizards Wrap Up a Perfect Record Against the Pacers?

In any sport, it’s not easy to finish undefeated against an opponent over the course of a season. But if the Wizards can lock up their first-round berth tonight, they will also lock up a 4-0 record against the Pacers.

If the Pacers can hold the Wizards under 130 points, it will be an achievement. They have failed to do so in the first three meetings. That includes 154 points in regulation in Washington’s 154-141 home win a little over two weeks ago. In their most recent meeting, Beal scored 50 points as the Wizards outlasted the Pacers 133-132 in overtime a dozen days ago in Indianapolis.

In the four play-in games thus far, the only over that hit came in the Pacers’ win over the Hornets. The over fell well short in the other three games. So while the over is the sensible play here, tread with caution.

As for the spread, the home team covered in both Eastern Conference play-in games on Tuesday. However, neither home team covered in last night’s Western Conference play-in games. Both the spread and total are a toss-up among betting industry picks, but will Beal and Westbrook let another opportunity pass them by? Provided the spread remains around 3 or 3.5, the Wizards ML is worth backing if you favor the Wizards but don’t want to be burned by a close game.

Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards Betting Consensus

  • Spread: 88% Pacers, 13% Wizards (at +/-3)
  • Total: 50% OVER, 50% UNDER (at O/U 237.5)
  • Moneyline: 50% Pacers, 50% Wizards

Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards Matchup: Picks, Odds, Stats and More

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