Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Preview
By Dan Favale
Cleveland Cavaliers (-1050) vs. Indiana Pacers (+675)
It’s only a matter of time before the sportsbooks pull the moneyline bets from this series. It’s that lopsided.
Some want to believe the Indiana Pacers have a chance. They have Paul George. Jeff Teague has been a steadying offensive presence. Myles Turner’s sophomore campaign was sensational, and he closed out the regular season on an absolute tear. C.J. Miles is one of the best spot-up marksmen in the league, Thaddeus Young has his defensive moments, Al Jefferson is a whiz in the post, and Glenn Robinson III can be kind of explosive.
All good things. But let’s be real: The Pacers don’t have a chance here.
These aren’t the 2013-14 Pacers that were set up for epic battles with LeBron James’ Miami Heat. They are different, barely recognizable. They have no discernible identity on either defense or offense. So even if you want to believe the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense is a concern, it won’t be against this team.
Make no mistake, there might be some close games. The Cavaliers, at this writing, have the worst transition defense in the NBA by points allowed per possession. By points allowed per 100 possessions, meanwhile, they’ve had one of the five worst fortresses in the league since the All-Star break.
J.R. Smith isn’t defending like he was last season after returning from his injury. Kyle Korver is a demonstrative minus when he’s on the floor. There isn’t enough depth up front behind Tristan Thompson. Kevin Love and Channing Frye can play minutes at center, but the defensive results won’t be good if you need them to be anything more than stationary rim protectors.
Ed Tavares might actually have to log meaningful action…in the playoffs…for the reigning champions…after being signed just before the regular season ended…without having played for another team this year. That tells you all you need to know.
Also of concern: The Cavaliers’ prefered lineup of Kyrie Irving, James, Love, Thompson and Smith is getting blasted on the defensive end per 100 possessions. Part of what made this unit so special last year was its ability to stand strong on the less glamorous end. That luxury does not exist this year.
Still, we know LeBron has a different gear to flip to in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if his teammates follow suit. Eventually, sure, it will matter. Against a Pacers team that fails to rank inside the top 10 or top 12 in offensive or defensive efficiency, though? Not so much.
The only question here is: How long will it take the Cavaliers to dispatch the Pacers?
Our answer: Five games.
To be sure, you don’t want to get caught up in bets that ask for specific game numbers. It’s a waste. Play spreads of individual games or moneylines of entire series matchups instead. This one in particular is slightly tough from a definitive number standpoint because the Cavaliers have been so bad defensively and the Pacers are so good at home that you could see this thing going to six games.
As of now, though, this seems like a long shot. The Cavaliers are by far the better team. Save for an injury to LeBron James himself (knock on wood), there isn’t a feasible scenario in which the Pacers are able to pull off this upset.
The Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-1050) in five games
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