It’s the final night of the NBA Regular Season and I can’t recall one with more on the line. There are far too many seeding scenarios to list them all, but suffice it to say that slots 2-6 in the West (with the exception of #4, as Portland owns it on a technicality for winning their division) are all fluid, and both final playoff slots and each respective conference are up for grabs. The New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers control their own destiny, but both have tough opponents; the Pels play the Spurs and the Pacers travel to Memphis fresh off a draining double-overtime win against Washington. Of course, both the Spurs and Grizz have incentive as they are part of the two-through-six fluidity in the West.
Pheewwwww. That’s a lot going on. We are riding some nice momentum after another dramatic win/cover last night thanks to the Celtics buzzer-beating win from Jae Crowder. Let’s see if we can cap off the regular season with a third straight NBA winner. It’s a tricky night, as it is really impossible to guess which team(s) are going to try to win, try to lose, dress their ballboys and assistant coaches… so let’s stick with one of the few games we KNOW will be played all-out.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Indiana Pacers -1.5 at Memphis Grizzlies
There are a lot of moving pieces in this game. First, the obvious – the Pacers almost definitely MUST win. I am going to assume (though with Brooklyn, it is always dicey) that Brooklyn will win at home against the Orlando Magic. If for some reason they LOSE that game, thanks to the Pacers and Grizz being backed up to 9:35 EST for ESPN, then the game becomes irrelevant. For the Pacers.
This game also COULD matter for the Grizzlies, and at least the first half WILL matter. The second half? We shall see… the reason why it may NOT matter is that if both the Rockets and Spurs win, then the Grizz are the sixth seed regardless, so you can expect Gasol and Conley, both who are nursing injuries, to head to the bench next to Tony Allen, and hey, why not send Z-Bo and Jeff Green along with them.
This game does indeed have a lot of moving parts. But the most logical conclusion is that this game will be played straight in the first half at the very least. Indiana will be fatigued, but they are also 6-0 since Paul George has returned – and I think they smell the victorious finish line and can gut out one last night of effort. I also think it is highly likely that the Spurs win at home, given their ridiculously high level of play lately, and I think Houston beats Utah. That means the Grizz are likely cashing out in the second half.
I wouldn’t object to the Pacers winning this game on their own merit given the roll they are on and Memphis’s beat up roster, but adding in the additional factor of potential rest in the second half and I’ll take the Pacers to cap of a late season miracle run – and as I’ve warned for a while now, Hawks, beware.