As one of the most polarizing players in NBA history, Russell Westbrook inspires and infuriates in equal measure. The 2020-21 season has been a confusing one without doubt, and Westbrook’s season is a fine example of this. For the first half of the season, he looked like an expensive millstone around the neck of the Washington Wizards. Sitting towards the basement of the Eastern Conference, the capital team looked like they would continue their long playoff drought. However, thanks to some sublime scoring with Bradley Beal, the Wizards have turned it around in style.
Most impressively, though, is the return of Westbrook. Since the All-Star break, he’s been hitting some ridiculous numbers. Indeed, just prior to the end of the regular season, he broke the record set by Oscar Robertson for triple-doubles. With 182 to his name, Westbrook has picked up the pace as the Wizards have rebuilt belief in their team.
Even with the injury to Beal, the Wiz have covered the spread in six of their last eight games. That’s highly impressive, and shows just how well Westbrook has reignited both his NBA career and the season. Now, the Wizards are one game away from an NBA playoff run.
Who do the Washington Wizards need to beat to make the 2021 Playoffs?
While the Wizards couldn’t overcome the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Tuesday evening for the 7th seed, they get another chance tonight vs the Indiana Pacers led by Domantas Sabonis. The winner secures the 8th seed in the playoffs and a dance with 76ers.
So far this season, the Wizards have beaten Indiana in all three of their matchups and they can match the fast style of play that the Pacers have been playing at, especially since losing Myles Turner to injury. Sabonis now works as the Center in their lineup and they’ve adjusted their play style accordingly for their points to be divided more between the players. They play fast and shoot from deep whenever open - the Wizards will have to try and slow down Sabonis as much as possible.
Will the Wizards win the NBA Eastern Conference play-in?
We think so, but the betting line is close. They look aggressive, they look ferocious, and they look driven in their goals. While there is some fear that Beal still might not be 100% for tonight’s game, Westbrook will absolutely be fired up.
On the flipside, Indiana has a lot of injures and even though they had an impressive showing vs Charlotte in their first play in game, we expect the Westbrook and the Wizards to present more of a challenge.
It's tough to go against the Wizards given head-to-head record with the Pacers this year, but some bettors might find the current moneyline at +130 for the Pacers worth a look given how they played in their last game vs Charlotte. If it gets any higher it might be good value to bet against favorite.