Pacers vs. Trail Blazers Betting Preview: Anfernee Simons Is Poised for Another Scoring Barrage

James Turvey previews Sunday night's NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers and offers up a betting prediction.

Pacers vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Pacers Odds +3.5
Trail Blazers Odds -3.5
Over/Under 232.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Both these teams went 13-9 against the spread in their first 22 games (the Blazers covered and won their 23rd game as this article was being written). Meanwhile, neither team has shown any real consistency in terms of over/under profitability, with the Pacers an even 11-11, and the Blazers 10-12-1 slightly in favor of the under.

These teams are actually a bit of a funhouse mirror of each other. Both teams have surprised folks with their early win-loss record, but have done so with very conflicting styles. The Pacers rank eighth in the Association in points per game and play at the second-fastest pace. The Blazers, on the other hand, play at the third-slowest pace, and partly as a result, allow the 11th-fewest points per game.

Styles make fights as they say, so let’s take a deeper look at each of these sides.

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Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have looked a bit off over the past two games, and it should come as no surprise given that their talisman isn’t looking quite right.

After a 20-game stretch to start the season that got him into the Most Improved Player conversation, Tyrese Haliburton has had arguably his worst two games of the season and is questionable for Sunday with a groin injury. The young guard totaled just 23 points and 14 assists over the past two games, barely over his season per-game averages. The Pacers lost both games by at least 20 — their two worst defeats of the season.

If Haliburton is out Sunday, unless the line takes a massive 4-5-point swing, I’m going to be looking to play the Blazers. There are certain players whose impact is a little greater than Vegas tends to adjust for (note the slip in the Jazz‘s production since Mike Conley went out with injury) and Haliburton is one. He drives success for the Pacers.

Haliburton has yet to miss a game this season, but if he does miss this one, T.J. McConnell will take his place. If this is the case, I will be looking at the game under, as well as the Pacers team total under. Haliburton takes the most shots per game of any Pacer, and Bennedict Mathurin will be the one to watch for props if Haliburton is out.

It’s hard to know the exact lines Vegas will offer, but I’d be looking at Mathurin for 25+ points, as well as To Lead the Game in Points. The Blazers have a strong defense, but will be on the second night of a back to back, and Anfernee Simons can be picked on if the Pacers are looking to do so.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers are still without Damian Lillard, but they have managed to stay afloat in the 12 games (5-7) he’s missed this season.

Portland has also played one of the hardest schedules so far, and that’s adjusted for several key factors:

Simons has been key in picking up the offensive slack, averaging 29 points and nearly six assists per game in the 10 games in which he played but Lillard didn’t (they were both out for two games this season). Simons peaked most recently with a career-high 45 points in Portland’s win over the Jazz.

The Blazers won’t need that many points from Simons if Haliburton is out, but this is an opponent that pushes the pace and should provide plenty of possessions for Simons and the rest of the Blazers to do well in terms of their prop overs.

Pacers-Trail Blazers Pick

A lot of the preview is centered around Haliburton missing this game. If he does play, I still like a few of these plays, but I’ll note which are tied to Haliburton’s status.

Pick: Indiana team total under 114.5 (reliant on Haliburton out, would take to 109.5 if so) | Simons over 33.5 points + rebounds + assists | Blazers -3.5 (reliant on Haliburton out, would take to -6.5 if so)
Under 232.5 (reliant on Haliburton out, would take to 229.5 if so) | Simons over 4.5 threes (plus money)