In the very first game of the inaugural iteration of the NBA’s updated play-in tournament format, the seemingly ice cold Charlotte Hornets, the 10th seed, will face off with the Indiana Pacers, the 9th seed. Because the Pacers are the slightly higher seed (by a single game), they will be playing at home at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which could actually be a problem disguised as an advantage.
Free Picks: Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets
Hornets Head To Indiana For East’s 9 vs. 10 Play-In Game (Regular Season Betting Record: 98-107)
The Indiana Pacers enter this play-in contest having won three of their past five and four of their past seven, not exactly what you’d call a hot streak until you see that they’ve covered the spread in seven straight games. While they weren’t exactly taking on world beaters over the final couple of weeks of the season, they still got the job done more often than not.
They did a good enough job in the final stages of the season to leapfrog the youthful Charlotte Hornets for that No. 9 seed and home court advantage for this Tuesday night matchup in the play-in tournament. The Hornets actually fell from the eighth seed down to 10th over the final week of the regular season.
The winner of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards (which takes place a couple of hours after this one on Tuesday night) will claim the seventh seed. Meanwhile, the loser will take on the winner of Indiana-Charlotte for the right to the official No. 8 seed for the first round of the playoffs, which comes with a first-round date across from the Philadelphia 76ers.
While the Pacers played well enough to snag a home game in the play-in, the Hornets lost their final five games in a row to fall into 10th place. Being forced to stay on the road for both play-in games will make it tough on the overachieving Hornets, but they will surely take heart in seeing the Pacers’ home record this season.
Apart from the pitiful Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, there was no team that put up a worse record against the spread at home during this campaign than the Pacers, who piled up an ugly 13-23 ATS record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the regular season. Somehow, they were even worse at home, putting up a ghastly 6-14 ATS mark there.
Even straight up they still had a brutal 9-11 mark as home favorites this season, which gives us an idea for a cheeky NBA prediction that will serve as our first top pick of this young 2021 NBA postseason. It’s not just homecourt blues for the Pacers that has us convinced that presumptive Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball and company can pull off the upset here, though.
The Hornets unexpectedly got Ball back a few weeks ago when many thought his season had been finished by a wrist injury, and then the Hornets reunited the young Alley expert with his favorite Ooper, Miles Bridges, who didn’t skip a beat after returning from an extended period in the NBA’s COVID-induced health and safety protocols.
While they still don’t have Gordon Hayward, the return of the aforementioned pair alongside reserve scorer Malik Monk makes it an exciting time for the Hornets. The Pacers, meanwhile, are dealing with a ton of injuries. Edmond Sumner is unlikely to play, Caris LeVert left their last game with migraines, and Malcolm Brogdon hasn’t played in weeks and is a game-time call.
Most importantly, however, is the status of Domantas Sabonis, which is uncertain for Tuesday night as of this writing because of a quad issue. If Sabonis doesn’t play, the Hornets would likely become big-time favorites, so we’re making our pick on this young and exciting team early to take advantage of that possible eventuality.
That youthful exuberance is another reason we like the Hornets over the Pacers here. The Pacers have a lot of disgruntled veterans on their roster that have already been a part of several first round exits for Indiana, so they may not have the same will to win just so they can lose in the first round again when compared to this young Hornets team.
Charlotte is a young team looking for any playoff experience they can get, so we like them to straight up win the play-in game in Indiana with beautiful +130 NBA odds as one of our best bets for today.
- Indiana was 13-23 ATS at home this season
- Indiana 6-14 ATS as the home favorite this season
- Charlotte was 10-10 ATS as an underdog of 5 points or less this season
- Indiana is 9-11 SU as the home favorite this season
More NBA Free PicksSee more
Free Picks: Clippers vs. Mavericks, 2021 Western Conference Playoffs Round 1
The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Free Picks: Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 2021 Western Conference Playoffs Round 1
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
Free Picks: Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
Free Picks: Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.