Series Preview: Pacers vs Wizards, Game 1

Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers

Game 1

Monday 7:05 pm EST

May 5, 2014

Game 1 Line: Indiana -4

Series Line: Indiana -200 / Washington +150

Finally knowing who their opponent will be, the Washington Wizards begin this series against the No. 1 seed Indiana Pacers, winners of eight or their last nine games.

After exceeding expectations, the Wizards will be well-rested coming into this series after dispatching the Chicago Bulls in five games. Despite John Wall’s struggles against the Bulls in the opening round, shooting just 36.4 percent from the floor while averaging 18.8 points, the Wizards were able to advance thanks to the play of his sidekick, Bradley Beal, and veteran Trevor Ariza.

Averaging 19.8 points in the series, while shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range, Beal’s extraordinary play has given Wizards fans hope not only for the future but for the present too. Returning to the playoffs for the first time in six years, Wall and Beal have raised expectations for how far this lethal duo carry their team in the postseason. But the key player for the Wizards will be Ariza. His offensive contributions were a pleasant surprise, including his 30-point performance in Game 4, but it’s going to be his defense that will determine the outcome of the series. Ariza has a difficult task at hand. We’ll see if he’ll be able to contain Paul George, proving why he’s one of the best wing defenders in the league.

Thus far, Beal and Wall have handled the pressure of the playoffs, but the Bulls do not have the offensive firepower of the Pacers. In this round, Wall and Beal are going to have to be at their very best, even if the Pacers have struggled, playing the roll of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all season.

Starting the season 16-1, but needing seven games to defeat the No. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks, the Pacers are still trying to find their identity. George, who averaged 23.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game against the Hawks, showed us why he was once considered an MVP candidate during the regular season. However, it’s been the Pacers lack of consistency, especially from the play of Roy Hibbert, that make you wonder if the Pacers can advance into the Eastern Conference Finals. After going scoreless in two consecutive games, Hibbert had his best performance of the series with 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

After a tumultuous start to the postseason, eventually having to win both Games 6 and 7 against the Hawks to keep their championship hopes alive, George and co. responded. For the first time these playoffs, the Pacers resembled the No. 1 seed. But playing well for merely two games in this round certainly will not get the job done against the Wizards.

While Game 7 had a vintage George performance, it’s been the Wizards offense that has been anything but inconsistent, all postseason long. The Pacers weren’t supposed to struggle against the Hawks, but they did, leaving plenty of questions heading into this round. We know which Wizards team is going to show up. The same cannot be said for the Pacers.

Indiana has George on their roster, but the Wizards are a dangerous team with a very dangerous duo. And right now, although the Wizards are playing with house money, I’m taking my chances on them. I’m all in, not only in Game 1, but for the series too.

My Picks: Wizards +4.5, Moneyline, and Win Series in 6 Games

May 5, 2014 by : Posted in Picks and Predictions No Comments
Adam Rosen

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Adam Rosen is a seasoned sports writer with special interests in Pro Football and Basketball. He has been picking sports games against the spread for years, and has posted a 56% win rate over his last 75 predictions.

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