Wizards vs. Pacers Pick – February 16th

It's the final night of the unofficial first half of the NBA season, and there are only two games on the slate to choose from.  But, despite a lack of options, I like our play tonight in the Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers tilt...

It’s the final night of the unofficial first half (though disproportionately longer) of the NBA season, and we will look to close out the solid start to the season in style with one more winner.  But before we get to today’s pick, here are some quick thoughts on the first half of the year:

* It’s been an absolute GOLDEN year of the NBA with some statistical and individual brilliance we haven’t seen in quite a long time (ever). Do not let anyone tell you the NBA isn’t “as good anymore” without also realizing they are just old and bitter (sorry, it’s true ‘get off my lawn’ guy).  Russell Westbrook is going to average a triple double this season… and STILL not win the MVP Award.  THAT’s how good this season has been.

* Last night Russ and Harden became the first two guys to have triple doubles with 35-plus points on the same night since Pete Maravich and Kareem in 1975.

* Isaiah Thomas is about to pass John Havlichek’s Celtics record for most consecutive games with 20-plus points at 41. He has the otherwise star-less Celtics within a few games of the top seed in the East.  He will be luck to finish in the top three in the MVP Race.

* LeBron James is leading the NBA in minutes played. He is also leading the NBA in being great at basketball.  But stats matter.  He could finish outside the top five in MVP voting for the first time since his second season and out of the top three for the first time since 2007-08.

* Golden State is failing to live up to expectations. Yet at 47-9 they are on pace for 69 wins which would tie them for the third-best regular season in NBA history.

* Philly is the only team in the NBA covering more than 60% of their games. Portland is the only team covering less than 40%.  65% of the league is within 5% of .500.

Today’s NBA Pick:

Washington Wizards -2 at Indiana Pacers

Here is where a quick overall snapshot might lead one astray:  The Wizards are just 9-14 SU on the road.  Indiana is 20-9 SU at home.  Despite that, the Pacers are GETTING points at home.  Edge, Indy – right??

Well… maybe not.  There are a few troubling things to note about Indiana.  For starters, yes, they have a  nice home record, but they have lost five games in a row overall and are just 2-4 ATS in their last six home games.  They are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games against the Wizards, and they are just 3-6 ATS in their last nine home games overall.  And, they played Cleveland last night.

The “short rest” theory hasn’t hampered as many teams this season as it usually does.  In fact, exactly half of the NBA is .500 or better ATS on the backend of back-to-backs.  But it DOES affect Indiana.  They are an NBA-worst 2-9 ATS on no rest with an average margin of loss close to double digits at -9.4 ppg.

Meanwhile, Washington is scorching hot.  They enter winners of ten of their last eleven games overall and a blistering 15-4 ATS.  They are also rested while the Pacers are not – which makes a big difference when looking at short rest numbers.  They regress to closer to moot when both teams are similarly fatigued.  That is not the case tonight.

Home or road hasn’t mattered lately with the Wizards.  They have won five of their last six on the road and have gone a mirroring 5-1 ATS over the same stretch.  I think they close out the first half of the season tonight with yet another victory.