Jack Green makes his NBA predictions for the first four games of the NBA play-in tournament, with four picks against the spread.
Indiana Pacers (-3) vs Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets looked to have the No. 8 seed in the East locked up, but they blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead against the Wizards on Sunday and dropped to 10th in the standings.
Charlotte closed the season with a run of five consecutive defeats and it’s hard to see them turning things around against Indiana.
The Pacers have hovered under .500 for most of the season but went 8-7 over their last 15 games and should get the job done comfortably against a Hornets team with a 15-21 record on the road.
Washington Wizards (+1.5) vs Boston Celtics
The Wizards’ comeback win over the Hornets on Sunday was their 15th victory in their last 20 games, in what has been an incredible run to end the season as the No. 8 seed.
Washington’s five defeats during that period all came by a margin of four points or fewer, while seven of their 15 victories came by double digits.
Boston, meanwhile, finished off a disappointing regular season by going 2-6 over its last eight games. The Celtics have lost Jaylen Brown for the season with a wrist injury, and it’s hard to trust them against the surging Wizards.
Memphis Grizzlies (-3.5) vs San Antonio Spurs
The Grizzlies lost their last game to the Golden State Warriors, but they had won five in a row prior to that and look like the team to back against San Antonio on Wednesday.
The Spurs have lost 10 of their last 12 games, including a four-game losing streak that culminated in back-to-back losses to the Phoenix Suns.
San Antonio lost its last two meetings with Memphis 129-112 and 133-102, and a repeat of those blowouts would be no surprise given the Spurs’ poor form.
Golden State Warriors (+4.5) vs Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are back in the Lakers’ line-up and are seemingly both healthy, but it may take them a while to return to title-winning form.
Although the Lakers ended the season with a five-game winning streak, the last three of those wins came against teams with losing records.
The red-hot Warriors pose a much bigger threat. Steph Curry has powered Golden State to a run of eight wins in nine games, including victories over the top two teams in the Western Conference.
The postseason experience of James and the Lakers may be enough to secure the win and the No. 7 seed, but the Warriors look well worth backing to at least keep it close given that they’ve now gone 15-5 since early April.
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