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December 20, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers

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AJ Mast / AP

Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, front left, tries to block the shot of Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap during the first half in Game 7 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 3, 2014.

I’m attempting to snap a personal three-game losing streak in the Play of the Day, which features odds from the South Point, with my fifth straight pick.

Hard to believe that Friday I was one win away from getting above our starting bankroll of $10,000 for the first time. Getting in the black now seems as far away as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the fate of another chunk of monkey will be determined this evening.

Indiana Pacers minus-4 vs. Washington Wizards: $440 to win $400

As the Pacers plummeted to mediocrity over the second half of the NBA season, there was a sense that it couldn’t be permanent, that they weren’t possibly this poor of a team, that it would all even out eventually. Indiana’s second-coming may have taken shape in the final two games of its first-round series against Atlanta.

With their season on the line, the Pacers suddenly looked more like the team that put themselves into the NBA title discussion at the beginning of the year. Their defense was dogged in minimizing Atlanta’s open looks.

They went back to working their offense through Paul George, who responded by attacking and getting to the free-throw line when his shots weren’t falling.

Lance Stephenson loosened up and played his role. Even chided center Roy Hibbert chipped in a spectacular Game 7 stat line of 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

This all spells trouble for the Wizards, a team that’s basked in their first-round glory for the last week since beating the Bulls in five games. In two trips to Indiana this season, Washington lost by 20 points as a 10.5-point underdog and by 27 points as a 9-point underdog.

Not all teams necessarily play better after rest, and the Wizards went 2-5 against the spread when more than two days separated their games. This could turn into a heck of a series, but Indiana will strike first.

Standings: Standings: Bern (21-16-1, $10,600), Keefer (19-23, $8,538), Brewer (15-20-3, $6,595)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer

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