The 9-10 game in the Play-In Tournament takes the tagline of "win or go home" literally.
Both teams in this position of the Play-In Tournament only advance to the playoffs if they win both games ahead of them. A loss at this stage would mean elimination and the end of the team's season.
In the East, the Indiana Pacers host the Charlotte Hornets in hopes of making it to their sixth-straight playoffs. Meanwhile, the Hornets will attempt to make just their fourth playoff appearance in franchise history and their first since 2016.
Where to Watch
Date: Tuesday, May 18
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: TNT in the United States, TSN 1/3/4 in Canada
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
The Hornets were one of the most exciting teams in the league, especially once Rookie of the Year frontrunner LaMelo Ball began finding his rhythm and form as a starter.
Having said that, what's more remarkable is how they treaded water in his absence, going 10-11 in the 21 games he missed.
They seem to have found a dependable core group of young players in Ball, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington. Rozier aside, none of those players have any playoff experience and their key veteran on the squad, Gordon Hayward, is expected to miss this game.
Over the course of the season, Indiana has ranked second in assists per game in the league, scoring a bulk of their points in the paint where they rank third-best while playing with the fourth-fastest pace in the league.
Experience will be the key advantage for the Pacers but despite being the more experienced "playoff team" in this matchup, it all comes down to who will suit up for Indiana.
They will already be without key rotation players in T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb and Myles Turner. Meanwhile, the availability of starters in Caris LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon is said to be a game-time decision. In fact, Brogdon hasn't played a game since injuring his hamstring in late April.
Both teams faced off in competitive games when they played two back-to-back in late January, with the combined winning margin of both games being only 13 points as each team struck one blow.
However, the Hornets came away with the eventual 2-1 advantage when they registered a comfortable 114-97 victory in early April.
Injury Report:- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 18, 2021
Brogdon - Questionable (right hamstring)
A. Holiday - Questionable (right toe)
Lamb - Out (left knee)
LeVert - Out (health & safety protocols)
Sabonis - Questionable (left quad)
Sumner - Questionable (left knee)
Turner - Out (right toe)
Warren - Out (left foot)
INJURY REPORT: @hornets at IND 5/18- Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) May 17, 2021
Gordon Hayward (R Foot Sprain) out
Cody Martin (L Ankle Sprain) out#AllFly
Spread: Pacers -3.5 (-105), Hornets +3.5 (-115)
Pacers money line: -150
Hornets money line: +130
Over/Under: 229.0 (-110)
Odds courtesy of William Hill sportsbook.
Picks and Predictions
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Charlotte Hornets
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Charlotte Hornets
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Charlotte Hornets
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Charlotte Hornets
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): Charlotte Hornets
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Charlotte Hornets
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