Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Indiana Pacers
NBA Prediction: Minnesota +4 (March 28th 2017)
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The 37-36 Indiana Pacers are are in a three-way tie with Atlanta and Milwaukee for the East’s No. 5 seed. It’s really a ‘horse race’ in the East as only 2 1/2 games separate the No. 5 team and the No. 9 team (Chicago), plus Detroit is one game back of Bulls at No. 10 and the No. 11 Hornets are just a half-game back of the Pistons. The Pacers are 26-11 SU on their home court after a 107-94 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday but open a difficult stretch of four contests in six days.
Minnesota has lost six in a row to take away any realistic chance at grabbing the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. “We have to get back to playing defense,” Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “If we want to win, that’s what you have to do. There’s no easy way out, no shortcuts. It’s about discipline. It’s about doing your job so everyone counts on you.” Thibodeau is known for his defensive-oriented approach but the T-wolves have never really caught on, ranking 17th in points allowed at 105.8 PPG. In fact, during the team’s six-game slide, they’ve allowed an average of 117.5 points.
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The Pacers are hoping to advantage of this contest, one of four home games in the final nine of the regular season. Paul George (22.6-6.4) is averaging 28.3 points over the last three games but Indiana lost two of those during a see-saw month in which it has dropped seven of 13 contests overall and gone 1-6 on the road. PG Jeff Teague (15.3-7.8 APG) has lifted his level of play, averaging 20.8 points the last four contests and draining 12-of-21 from behind the arc in a five-game span.
The Pacers have dominated the all-time series with Minnesota (35-18), especially at home where they are 21-5. However, now that the T-wolves playoff hopes have been all but squashed (Minnesota ranks among the most disappointing teams of the season), I expect this talented team to play loose down the stretch and we know that the Pacers are not to be trusted. Take the points.