Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference clash on Thursday night when Joel Embiid leads the Philadelphia 76ers (29-16) into Bankers Life Fieldhouse against Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers (29-14).
Philadelphia (No. 4) is just one game behind Indiana (No. 3) in the conference’s overall standings, and would tie them with a victory on Thursday. After losing just three total games in December, Indiana has started the new year with a record of 4-2, but has won consecutive games.
Betting Line & Odds
Entering Thursday, the Pacers went off as a -3.5 point favorite, and the over/under total for the game was set at 224.5. According to OddsShark, the line has moved to -2.5 for Indiana, and the O/U to 223.5.
On the Moneyline, Indiana is -150 to win, and Philadelphia is +130. Against the spread this season, the 76ers are a mediocre 21-24-0 (47%), which is 20th among teams, while the Pacers sit at 10th at 22-20-1 (52%).
After rumblings about the future of 76ers head coach Brett Brown started emerging, his team responded by winning six of eight games to start 2019. Philadelphia has actually won two straight games and is looking for three against Indiana. After holding off the New York Knicks on Sunday, the 76ers scored a season-high 149 points in a 42-point blowout win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.
Brown told reporters following the game he was thoroughly impressed with his team’s effort and performance:
“I think that we came out with energy. I thought we had a tremendous spirit. I thought we played defense. We used that base to run … but in a half-court spread, we shared the ball. We really used our defense as a launching pad and did some good things there, but we really shared the ball.”
Indiana is 15-5 straight up in 20 home games this season. That is despite the Pacers only averaging 109 points per game, which sits at 21st in the NBA. By contrast, the 76ers come in ranked fourth in the NNA averaging almost seven more points per game (115.4).
Nate McMillan’s squad is capable of clamping down defensively when needed, and given the lack of consistent outside shooting from the 76ers, it is safe to say the Pacers will force the offense tonight to the perimeter by collapsing the defense on Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, while attempting to deny Embiid the ball in the paint.
Prediction: Indiana is stingy at home. Philadelphia struggles to win key road games. The Pacers grind out a game that stays under the set total. Pacers: 107, 76ers: 102