Need For Defense

Without their two top point guards, the Washington Wizards' offense has been struggling. The Indiana Pacers' porous defense could be the perfect remedy.

One night after allowing 131 points to the NBA's worst team, the Pacers on Saturday host the Wizards, who have lost two in a row with their depleted lineup.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Indiana -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 206.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Indiana -6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Washington (13-12) has been without Gilbert Arenas (knee surgery) since mid-November, but has also been missing point guard Antonio Daniels (sprained right knee ligament) for the last three games.

With either Nick Young or Roger Mason Jr. starting, the Wizards have gone 1-2 and averaged just 89.3 points, well below their 100.5 season average.

"It is something that we can't use as an excuse, night in and night out, for why we lost," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of the injuries. "We are capable of playing better and rebounding better."

Washington was outrebounded 49-33 by Atlanta on Friday as the Wizards lost their second straight game, 97-92 despite 30 points from Antawn Jamison. Jamison shot 13-for-19, but the rest of the team shot just 36.3 percent and the Wizards compiled only 14 assists.

Indiana (14-13) has its own problems. The Pacers had won three in a row before Friday, but squandered a 21-point first-half lead to Minnesota en route to a 131-118 loss to the league's worst team.

The Pacers' defense had been a bit better in recent games, holding New York and Philadelphia to an average of 36.3 percent shooting and 88.5 points in wins Monday and Wednesday.

But Indiana still allows 104.8 points per game, - easily the most in the Eastern Conference - and permitted the Timberwolves to shoot a season-best 53.8 percent from the field. The Pacers have allowed 10 opponents to score at least 110 points in a game this season.

Indiana also has the best offense (104.9 ppg) in the East, though, and has been riding a hot Mike Dunleavy lately. After scoring 30 points against Minnesota, Dunleavy is averaging 28.3 while shooting 60 percent from the field over his last three games.

He's helped pick up the slack for a struggling Jermaine O'Neal, who had just eight points against the Timberwolves and is averaging just 15.8, his fewest since his first season with the Pacers in 2000-01.

The Pacers are 6-2 on the second night of back-to-back games this season, and have also won their last six games that followed losses.

The Wizards and Pacers met at Conseco Fieldhouse on Oct. 31 in the season opener for both teams, with Indiana winning 119-110 in overtime without O'Neal, behind double-doubles from Dunleavy (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Danny Granger (20 points, 13 rebounds).

However, Washington has won four of five overall against the Pacers, including both meetings in Indianapolis last year. The Wizards also beat Indiana 103-90 at home Nov. 14, behind 30 points from Arenas and 25 from Butler.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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