The first night of the NBA’s play-in tournament is in the books, and the powers that be cannot be happy with what transpired.
Charlotte forgot the rules of the tournament and showed up like it was a regular-season game on a Tuesday night. Indiana torched them for 144 points and 1.288 points per possession on the way to a 27-point win and a spot in the final play-in game. The Hornets were pathetic on defense, allowing the Pacers to go 22-of-30 at the rim and 14-of-30 from deep in non-garbage time minutes while giving up 1.125 points per play in the half court. It was certainly not the way the NBA had envisioned its first play-in tournament starting.
An hour later, in Boston, the bad version of Russell Westbrook showed up and the red-hot Washington Wizards were cooled down by Jayson Tatum and the Celtics. Tatum dropped 50 points on 14-of-32 shooting and sank each of his 17 free throw attempts, but this loss was about the Wizards' suddenly non-existent offense. Westbrook went 6-of-18 from the floor, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans combined to go 1-of-13 from 3-point range and Washington managed just 0.971 points per possession.
Indiana and Washington will meet on Friday with the final seed in the Eastern Conference on the line, but most of us are hoping for a fun play-in game tonight. Maybe even two. At least we have two stars facing one another in LeBron James and Steph Curry. Hopefully they can deliver.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers (-7, 223.5)
These two teams have played three times this season, and Los Angeles is hoping history repeats itself tonight. In three regular season meetings, the Lakers are 2-1 SU and ATS with a + 16.6 net rating. The Warriors have averaged just 97.4 points per 100 possessions in those three contests, and Steph Curry has averaged just 23 points on 42.3% from the floor and 34.6% on 3-point attempts. Something has to change with this Warriors offense if the result is going to be different this time around.
Golden State finished the season ranked 21st in non-garbage time offensive efficiency, scoring just 111 points per 100 possessions. However, over this 8-1 SU/ATS run the team went on to close the season, the offense has been better. They have the 10th-ranked offense at 118.3 points per 100 possessions and they have scored at least 113 points in each victory. However, six of their opponents ranked 23rd or lower in defensive efficiency this season (they did face Phoenix during this run, but the Suns have the 20th-ranked defense in the league since the All-Star break). In other words, the schedule has been favorable. Against one of the best defenses in the league -- and one that has had immense success defending this team -- can the Warriors maintain this run on offense?