Beefy 11 game card in the NBA for Monday and we’ll take a look at a Central Division matchup between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. Indiana has been red hot winning 8 of their last 10 going 7-3 against the spread in that stretch. They need to stay hot if they want to keep pace with the top two teams in the division–Milwaukee is 9-1 in their last 10 games and Toronto is 8-2 in their last 10. For now, the Pacers are in third place 5.5 games back of the East leading Bucks. Two games back are the Philadelphia 76ers and 3 games back are the Boston Celtics so they’re in a position where they need to keep playing good basketball or they’ll quickly get shuffled to the rear of the pack.
Detroit is currently in 7th place in the Eastern Conference with a 28-30 record. The fact that they would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today says more about the top heavy state of the Eastern Conference than anything about the Pistons. To be fair, they have been playing good ball of late winning 7 of 10 (5-5 ATS in that stretch). Looking into that winning run shows that they’ve taken advantage of a lot of bad teams with wins over New York twice, Atlanta, Miami, Washington and Dallas. They did pick up a nice home win over West second place team Denver but the Nuggets aren’t anything special on the road anyway (15-14 SU).
The Pacers do have some injury issues. Tyreke Evans and Miles Turner are both listed as ‘questionable’ for Monday’s game while Victor Oladipo is done for the season. That’s likely why Detroit is favored here against a superior team that plays well on the road (17-12 SU). Even with the injury questions for Indiana they look to be a more legit class team in this matchup. Pacers have won 9 of 12 against opponents with losing records covering 8 of those games. Big concern about Detroit’s ability to step up in class–they’re a woeful 7-18 SU (10-14-1 ATS) against opponents with winning records and enter this contest having lost 4 of 5 SU/ATS to opponents over .500.
Detroit’s front office doesn’t seem to have a good strategy for putting together a lineup for head coach Dwayne Casey to work with. It almost seemed like they were making trades just for the sake of doing them and not with any sort of cohesive gameplan. We do appreciate Detroit’s improved defense–the Pistons are #9 in the NBA in scoring defense–but they’re not in Indiana’s class. Pacers have the #1 scoring defense in the league giving up just 103.2 PPG. Teams that play nasty team defense are tough in any situation and better able to overcome injuries than teams that rely on superstar scoring. Pacers take this one outright.