The Washington Wizards have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season. Despite playing in the weakest division in the league by a mile, they are just 21-29 after 50 games and will not repeat as Southeast Division champions. Washington’s locker room is a mess, and the Wizards will likely need to get rid of either Bradley Beal or John Wall soon. That’s why the Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers are still short favorites coming into tonight’s game.
Losing Oladipo has been huge. He was the Pacers’ leader and the player the team turned to when they needed a basket in crunch time. Oladipo won’t be back for the remainder of the year due to an injury, and his presence is already being missed. Tyreke Evans will miss tonight’s game too due to a back injury.
John Wall is out for the remainder of the season due to a foot injury, and that leaves Washington without their primary ball handler. However, that may be a case of addition by subtraction as the rumors of feuding between Wall and Beal were growing. Dwight Howard has only played nine games this year and will be out for another month with a back injury, and Markieff Morris is going to miss another month with a neck injury. Devin Robinson will be a game-time decision because of a hip issue.
Indiana is a one-point road favorite tonight against Washington, and the over/under has been set at 218.5.
What’s at Stake?
Even though the Wizards have been bad this year, the playoffs are still within their reach, and without LeBron James in the conference there is no clear favorite in the Eastern Conference. Washington is just 3.5 games back of the No. 8 seed coming into tonight’s game, so a win tonight is important for keeping pace.
Indiana is looking to prove that it can win without Oladipo. The Pacers were able to win their first game without their superstar, but they lost on the road to Memphis this weekend and were hammered by 32 points by Golden State at home on Monday night.
The Pacers had last night off, but they will start a four-game southern road trip tonight. They will face Orlando on Thursday night in what will be a tough test given the travel without a day off, before taking on Miami and New Orleans.
Washington just finished up a three-game helter-skelter road trip that saw the Wizards take on Orlando, San Antonio, and Cleveland with a night off in between each game. They were able to knock off Orlando, but weren’t so fortunate against either San Antonio or Cleveland. The Wizards won’t have any rest before tonight’s game as they played the Cavaliers last night.
Without Wall in the lineup, the Wizards are Beal’s team. He has been a much better shooter than Wall this season (especially from distance), and he has been the team’s primary ball handler. Beal is playing big minutes, averaging 37.2 MPG, and his workload has increased in Wall’s absence. He is pretty much a lock to score 20 each night, so keep that in mind when his player props are released.
Indiana has been one of the best defensive teams in the league, but their offense has been solid too. Bojan Bogdanovic has flourished since coming over to join the Pacers, and Domantas Sabonis has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie. Those two have been very efficient from the floor with Bogdanovic knocking them down from the outside and Sabonis working in the low post.
Indiana is well-coached and with Washington coming off of a game last night, I expect the Pacers to get the win. The Wizards have been playing better without Wall, but the Pacers have been great on defense and Washington lacks the creator to get teammates open looks.
My only concern is the guard play for Indiana. With Evans out too, the Pacers are thin at guard and that could be a real problem. For that reason, I’m going to take Wall to go over his point total as well.