Nets vs Pacers NBA Preview

James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP
James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Brooklyn heads out on the road and in search of 14 victories in 15 attempts. The Nets are going to the center of the basketball universe in the Hoosier State to face the Indiana Pacers. This is the first of five away assignments for Brooklyn over their next six contests, traveling to Orlando on Friday.

Indiana is in the midst of a very challenging schedule, home for this game after a four-game road trip and heading out for three more away from Indianapolis after this encounter.


Brooklyn Nets vs. Indiana Pacers

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – 07:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

At the best betting sites like Unibet, Brooklyn is a 3.5-point road favorite with a total of 233 according to the NBA odds. This series has recently been dominated by the road team against the spread, be it as a favorite or underdog. The away crew has covered six in a row and nine of 10. Will this trend continue or does something different occur? Let’s break it down for you.

Nets Following Harden’s Lead, Listening to Nash About Defense

Not really deeply involved in the NBA before becoming Brooklyn’s head coach, Steve Nash only knew what he had heard about James Harden. Now having coached him for 26 games and working with him in practice daily, Nash has a new perspective.

“He’s (Harden) been incredible,” Nash said Monday. “I knew the player on the court but I didn’t know the player as a personality or a leader. I couldn’t be more impressed with the impact he has had on our team in that respect.”

Like any strong leader, it’s not about making everyone feel great, rather, finding ways to get more out of your teammates individually and collectively and if that means tough love from time to time, so be it.

A look at various offensive statistics finds the Nets (27-13, 21-19 ATS), first in scoring and shooting percentage and third in three-point shooting and assists. What you have is a high octane offense with a scorer and facilitator like Harden and teammates that have learned to play together and share the ball for the benefit of all. And doing this the majority of the time without Kevin Durant.

Brooklyn is not the Knicks when it comes to defense, however, they have shown real development, as Nash has gotten through to his team. The Nets are middle of the pack in field goal percentage defense and hovering around 10th in three-point defense.

Indiana Has to Decide Its Future

After leading the Central Division on Jan. 27, Indiana (17-21, 15-22-1 ATS) has nosedived from its highest point and is now 10th in a weak Eastern Conference. The Pacers have lost seven of their last nine and have cost backers dearly at 1-7-1 ATS.

After years of being one of the elite defensive clubs in the NBA, Indiana is 18th in field goal percentage allowed and an abhorrent 26th guarding outside the arc. This is happening while having one of the best defensive centers and shot-blockers in Myles Turner. The big man does his job on one end of the floor, yet when he rests or picks up too many fouls, opposing teams go to the rim like a kid running to see the ice cream truck for the first time in the summer.

Backup Goga Bitadze is only 21 and is learning and lacks certain basketball knowledge only time can bring. Domantas Sabonis is an ultra-talented offensive player, but his frame is not built to patrol the middle other than for short stints despite being 6-11.

Though Indiana ranks a respectable 12th in effective field goal defense, however, they will give up points in bunches, which creates holes that are hard to dig out of.

Having traded Victor Oladipo, will Turner be next if the playoffs are fading away or only reaching a seven or eight seed?

The Point Spread Winner

Indiana should be plenty motivated to take on a juggernaut and begin to turn their season around back in the right direction. That might not be as easy as it sounds when you 4-16 ATS after a combined score of 215 points or more in two straight games.

This is among the reasons for NBA picks we’ll side with Brooklyn. As we mentioned, the visitor has owned this series of late and the Nets know how good they are, while the Pacers are searching for answers.

If Indy’s defense, especially against the three-ball was stiffer, we could maybe build a stronger case. But it’s not and Harden and company are just playing too well.

NBA Picks: Nets -3.5 (-112) at Unibet

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