The Indiana Pacers are not playing anywhere close to the level they need to be showing right now. The team that had ruled the Eastern Conference for the first three months of the season has really dropped off over the past month and has seen its lead over the second-place Miami Heat shrink to virtually nothing. The Pacers face a huge NBA betting challenge on Friday night.
Friday, March 7th
NBA Basketball Betting Odds: Houston -4.5
The simple reality of this game is that Indiana – after getting blown out by the Charlotte Bobcats, 109-87 – has to look in the mirror and decide what kind of team it wants to be. The Pacers knew that LeBron James of the Miami Heat scored 61 points against Charlotte earlier in the week, so they had to feel confident about their chances when they faced the Bobcats. However, Indiana star Paul George scored only two points and missed all nine of his field goal attempts. For the Pacers to come out so flat against a mediocre team should be embarrassing to anyone and everyone in that locker room. You should expect Indiana to play with more passion in this game, and you should expect Indiana to not play as though it is bored, because that’s what the Pacers have looked like over the past few weeks. They seem to be waiting for the playoffs, but Houston should get their attention.
The problem for Indiana is this: Even though the Pacers might care about this game, will they execute well? Indiana scored only eight points in the first quarter against Charlotte and gave up 109 points, which is well out of character for one of the two best defensive teams in the Association, alongside the Chicago Bulls. Indiana just might not be ready to play its best in this game, even though it might try its hardest.
Pick: Houston -4.5