Indiana has reached the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season after defeating the Hawks in seven games. Meanwhile, Washington is appearing in the playoffs for the first time in six years, but the Wizards wasted no time in dispatching the Bulls in the opening round by taking the series in five games. Washington also arrives in Indiana with a lot of confidence after winning all three road games against the Bulls in the opening round. “The fact that they won all three games in Chicago, they’re going to come in here with road confidence, so to speak,” said Indiana head coach Frank Vogel. “We got to make sure we put a stop to it right away.”
Fundamental Analysis – Washington Wizards
Washington is averaging 100.3 points per game this season and is led by point guard John Wall, who is averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 assists per game. The Wizards are also 25-19 SU and 29-15 ATS on the road where they are averaging 100.4 points per game on 39.4% shooting from beyond the arc. Interestingly, Washington is actually 0.2 points per game worse than average offensively, and the Wizards are only averaging 94.6 points per game in the playoffs.
From a defensive standpoint, Washington is allowing 98.9 points per game to teams that would combine to average 99.8 points per game, thereby making the Wizards 0.9 points per game better than average defensively this season. However, Washington has picked up its defensive intensity in postseason play where the Wizards limited Chicago to just 90.0 points per game on 42.2% shooting from the field.
Fundamental Analysis – Indiana Pacers
Indiana’s success is predicated upon a very good defense that is allowing just 92.3 points per game to teams that would combine to average 100.3 points per game. Moreover, the Pacers are 37-8 at home this season where they are limiting opponents to 88.5 points per game on 40.4% shooting from the floor. Overall, Indiana is 8.0 points per game better than average defensively this season, which is certainly good enough to slow down Washington’s attack.
The ongoing problem for Indiana is its inability to score as the Pacers are averaging 96.5 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 101.0 points per game. While the Pacers are slightly better at home (98.3 points per game), they remain 4.5 points per game worse than average offensively.
Indiana’s struggles during the regular season (and into the playoffs) are well chronicled as the Pacers are 16-34-1 ATS in their last 51 games overall, including 4-11 ATS at home, 6-21 ATS following a win, 3-13 ATS versus teams with a winning record and 5-24 ATS when playing with one day of rest. With that said, the Pacers have won twelve consecutive home games over the Wizards and fifteen of the last nineteen meetings overall. And, Indiana’s scare in the opening round served as a wakeup call for a team that is capable of reaching the Finals.
“Playoff basketball is about playing perfect ball one possession at a time, one game at a time,” said Paul George. “And we didn’t value that so I think the First Round did raise antennas and sharpened us up.” The question is whether that First Round scare is enough for the Pacers to get by a streaking Washington squad that is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games, 5-1 ATS versus teams with a win percentage above .600 and 9-2 ATS on the road versus teams with a home winning percentage exceeding .600.
Pro Edge Sports Pick: Indiana Pacers (-4) (-110)