NBA Predictions & Picks - Tuesday's Play-In Games
The play-in tournament is finally here, and it’s not short on some starry names. Three of the teams features in the East half of the bracket were picked by most observers to be among the playoff locks before the season started, and yet two will be going home by the end of this week. We start with the battle for the 7th seed.
The Celtics, thanks in large part to all those banners hanging up in the rafters of TD Garden, have fans all around the world. Those fans like to put money on their team. It happens.
That’s the only reasonable explanation for why Boston is favored in this game.
Since April 12 – a not insignificant sample size that comprises more than a quarter of the season - the Washington Wizards have more wins than any team in basketball. They are both scoring and defending at a top-10 rate, and their overall net rating is fifth in the league.
From that same date, the Celtics have just eight wins against 10 losses and a middling negative 0.7 net rating, which ranks 18th best in the NBA over that time. Worse yet, in their last five games as a home favorite, they’re just 2-3 with a 1-4 record against the spread.
The Wizards have had quite a bit more success as a road dog, a position they find themselves in here, with five straight covers.
Does Washington make every game too close for comfort? Yes. Would you like this line to be more than a single possession? Absolutely. But when push comes to shove, in a matchup between one team that’s played like it’s had tickets to Cancun for weeks versus a team that seems hell bent on making fools of everyone who left them for dead, the choice is an easy one.
The Pick: Wizards +2 @ -105 (Click here to bet)
Any conversation about the Hornets post-Hayward has to begin with their wins since the $120 million man went down:
- Oklahoma City, who has a negative 15.4 net rating since the break
- Milwaukee, who was resting all three of its stars
- Portland, who was missing Damian Lillard
- Cleveland, who has been tanking for months
- Boston, right around when they started imploding
- Detroit, who is the second worst team in the league
- Detroit again
- Orlando, who has the second worst net rating since the break at negative 12.0
That’s the entire list. Since April 4, they have double the number of losses as they do wins, going 8-16 with a negative 4.7 net rating, which is sixth worst in the league over that time, only ahead of five teams that have been actively trying to lose games (four of which Charlotte has played recently). They also ended the season with five consecutive losses.
All of this is to say that while Indiana hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, what with their 12-12 record and 0.5 net rating in the same time frame, they’ve at least continued to prove that they’re a competent basketball team. They have recent wins over the Sixers and Hawks, and are 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven games.
Most importantly, since their All-Star Domantas Sabonis returned from an injury 10 games ago, he’s averaged 23 points, 14 boards and 10 assists on 62 percent shooting. In a game where the team with the best player will likely emerge victorious, there’s no question who that is here.
The Pick: Pacers -3 @ -105 (Click here to bet)
Tuesday, May 18 NBA Predictions & Expert Picks
Wizards +2 @ -105 (Click here to bet)
Pacers -3 @ -105 (Click here to bet)
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