The final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs is up for grabs as the Indiana Pacers head to D.C. to take on the Washington Wizards. Let’s see how each team got here and break it all down in this Eastern Conference Play-In finale prediction.
Eastern Conference Play-In Finale
Indiana won the first play-in tournament game in NBA history with a convincing outing against the Charlotte Hornets. Despite missing Caris LeVert due to health and safety protocols, the Pacers got off to a hot start offensively and never looked back. Doug McDermott led the way early on, scoring sixteen of his twenty-one points in the first quarter. All-Star Domantas Sabonis had a rough first half but bounced back in the third quarter. He added 21 rebounds and nine assists to his point total, barely missing a triple-double while sitting out the final quarter of the contest. The Pacers led the Eastern Conference in assists per game this season and that showed in their impressive ball movement throughout this game. The young Hornets struggled mightily in this one, with key players Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball unable to contribute much on the offensive end. Charlotte seemed to lack the energy and effort needed in the playoffs. Although they never quit fighting, their lackluster defensive play made it impossible to mount a comeback.
The Wizards look to keep their roller-coaster season alive in what could otherwise be their final home game this year. Washington was one of the worst teams in the East early in the season. Behind the efforts of near-scoring champ Bradley Beal and triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, Washington fought their way back into the playoff picture. The Wizards came into Boston looking to secure the seventh seed and avoid this upcoming matchup. The game started well, with Washington taking a two-point lead into halftime. However, a third-quarter barrage from the Celtics put the Wizards down ten going into the final quarter. They were unable to put a run together, inevitably falling apart in the final minutes. Beal and Westbrook struggled offensively, shooting poorly from the three-point line and combining for seven turnovers in the game. Jayson Tatum had a night to remember, outscoring the two stars combined with his fifty-point effort. Kemba Walker contributed twenty-nine points as well and the Wizards were unable to keep pace.
The Pacers have been solid on the road this season with a 21-15 away record. They will be without LeVert and Myles Turner, but Malcolm Brogdon has returned from injury. Additionally, McDermott and Oshae Brissett have emerged of late and will need to continue that to give Indiana a shot at victory. The Wizards have dominated this season series, sweeping the Pacers. Westbrook had a triple-double in all three games and only one of the contests was close. The Wizards have a decent record at home and will certainly defend the paint better than Charlotte did. Westbrook left the last game early but appears to be set to play in this one. If Indiana gets off to another hot start, they may have a chance to pull this one off. With the home crowd behind them, I think Beal and company have a slight advantage.
Wizards win over the Pacers.
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