NBA on ESPN Betting Odds: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers

LBJ is going to have to do even more with All-Star Kevin Love slated to miss the next month, at least.

Indiana at Cleveland
Time: 6 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: CLE -5.5
Total: 219.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Cleveland Cavaliers received the unfortunate news that it will be without Kevin Love for the next four-to-six weeks as he tends to a a left knee injury that is going to require some scoping.

The Cavaliers are hardly dead in the water, but head coach Tyronn Lue already made it clear he does not want to exhaust LeBron James in the absence of Love. That means several Cavs will have to step up to replace his production, and that begins with forwards Channing Frye and Kyle Korver. Even without Love, the Cavaliers host a middling Indiana Pacers team as 5.5 point favorites in the first of an ESPN double-header Wednesday night.

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Love’s loss is a big one. He seemed to have finally found his role as a third wheel to Kyrie Irving and James, and he was averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds per game over the last seven Cavs’ contests. Moreover, against the Pacers this season he was good for 20 points and 13 boards in the previous two meetings. Frye filled in adequately in the Cavaliers 116-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night, scoring 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and going 4 of 11 from three-point range. Frye finished with the best court differential of all Cavs: +17.

He seemed to have finally found his role as a third wheel to Kyrie Irving and James, and he was averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds per game over the last seven Cavs’ contests. Moreover, against the Pacers this season he was good for 20 points and 13 boards in the previous two meetings. Frye filled in adequately in the Cavaliers 116-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night, scoring 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and going 4 of 11 from three-point range. Frye finished with the best court differential of all Cavs: +17.

Frye finished with the best court differential of all Cavs: +17.

To be clear, while Frye has defensive shortcomings (not unlike Love’s own), he is a starter-caliber player fully capable of giving the Cavaliers the missing production until Love returns. Additionally, signing Derrick Williams should be a major boost in that regard, and he came off the bench to score 13 points and grab six rebounds in just 23 minutes. A former No. 2 overall pick and just 25 years old, perhaps LBJ and the Cavaliers begin to extract the immense potential latent in the former Arizona Wildcat.

The Cavs, however, are on the second night of a back to back. That means that James and Irving will likely receive a little more rest—if the Cavaliers are able to do it. James played 40 minutes in last night’s victor while Irving saw 37 minutes and attempted 27 field goals. The chance for the Indiana Pacers to sneak a “Schedule win” in this game is very alive, and real, despite entering the game as underdogs in Vegas’ odds.

Indiana

But do not bet on it, necessarily: Indiana has dropped its past four games and appears to be in some sort of free fall. Paul George has looked unmotivated and uninspired, and while still arguably playing “good” basketball, the intensity and fire he typically shows on the defensive end has all but evaporated. Jeff Teague has not been the star Indiana hoped he would blossom into; and meanwhile, the departed George Hill is having a very good season in Utah.

Even second-year big man Myles Turner has been something of a disappointment, averaging 15 points and seven boards this season.

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If the Pacers are able to reconstruct their team around Turner, it certainly cannot be on the basis of this season’s play. Turner still needs to become more assertive offensively and play with a good bit more aggression on the defensive end. The potential is there, and Turner could become a star, but many expected a bigger jump from his still-good rookie season a year ago.

The Pacers are also not replete with depth: Its bench is a mishmash of discarded veterans like Rodney Stuckey, Al Jefferson, C.J. Miles and Monta Ellis. All were once very effective players, but the days of Ellis being a premier isolation scorer are long gone. The once-teammate of Stephen Curry is averaging just 8.1 points and 3.2 assists in 27 minutes a game while shooting just 28.9 percent from three-point range.

Power forward and stretch-4 Thaddeus Young has been a nice fit at power forward, but it is unclear whether he represents any long-term solution at the position. While the Pacers have made no indications that they are looking to move Paul George, if the team continues to play as poorly as it has and free falls further in the standings, it would not be surprising to see them field some offers on draft night. Seeing him dealt by the Feb. 23 trade deadline would be far more shocking, of course.

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Posted by on Feb 15 2017. Filed under Headlines, NBA. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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