January 28, 2016 (3:18 PM ET)
Take Indiana Pacers at -3 spread against Atlanta Hawks for 3% of the bankroll.
These two teams are both coming off 2-point losses to the same club, LA Clippers! They both would like to get over that narrow defeat and bounce back but one is much more likely to do so in our opinion. That's because while the Pacers had Tuesday off to recharge their batteries and re-evaluate certain aspects of their play, the Hawks were involved in an intense battle that went right down the wire. Last night's game in Atlanta saw Mike Budenholzer's club expend a lot of energy, only to fall just short at the end as Paul Millsap missed a lay-up that could've forced overtime!
The deflated Hawks then had to take a flight to Indiana and will find this game tough as they are not only playing on consecutive nights (short turnaround) but one that involves travel. Atlanta is 1-4 in such situations this season and that lone win came in Houston when the Rockets got complacent after mounting a huge double-digit lead! They don't have a proven track record on the second night of back-to-back schedules therefore when on the road as tired legs have often caught up with them in the second half.
The Pacers meanwhile are in the middle of a homestand and are no longer suffering from jetlag. The contest against Clippers was their first game back at home after a lengthy West coast road trip and was always going to be challenging. Now, back at home already for a few days and having re-adjusted to the time zone and resumed normal training routine in their comfort zone, look for an inspired and energetic effort from them tonight. Frank Vogel's side has a distinct home-court advantage as evident by their solid 13-7 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse!
Indiana will be extremely motivated for this game due to several different reasons. One is that they have dropped 3 in a row and will naturally want to get back on winning track. A secondary source of incentive comes in the fact that they now occupy the 8th and final playoff position of the Eastern conference standings and have as many as 5 teams breathing down their necks! If they want to make the post-season, they have to snap this skid and put some daylight between them and the chasing pack as there's little margin for error. Fortunately for them, history is on their side as the Pacers have rarely lost more than 3 consecutive games in recent years, especially at home. Last but not least, failure to register a W tonight would see them drop to just a .500 record with 23 wins and 23 losses! This group has not been at that mediocre level (.500) since early in the season on November 9th when they sported a 4-4 mark at the time. They don't want to go back there and should raise their performance as they often do in such situations.
Jeff Teague is rumored to be on the trading block as several teams are looking for a starting PG and whether true or not, that creates confusion and hesitancy in the locker room. The Pacers will have no shortage of motivation in this contest and we expect them to not only be the fresher squad but to have a sense of urgency in their play since unlike Atlanta, they don't sit 3rd in the conference. Look for them to cover this short spread on their way to a victory as the Hawks' tired legs show up sooner or later and Indiana pulls away.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Pacers have covered the spread 15 of 20 times in games against teams with winning records this season!
- Rookie big, Myles Turner, is averaging 19.6 points on 64.6% shooting to go with 2.8 blocks in his last five games!
- Pacers are a perfect 10-0 ATS at home since 2011 with rest off a loss as an underdog after they made more field goals than their opponent!
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