Cleveland at Indiana
Time: 7:30 PM CT (TNT)
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James find themselves in unusual territory. James and the Cavs trail Indiana 1-2 in the Best of seven series, and Game 4 in Indianapolis sees NBA oddsmakers setting the spread at EVEN odds for the teams. With Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers playing loose and with minimal pressure on themselves, this could be the biggest upset of the first round, never mind the fact it came from an Indiana club most expected to be lottery-bound prior to the tip-off of the 2017-18 season.
But we know well, teams can often be far better than they appear on paper. Oladipo making a leap from a role player to superstar also had plenty to do with it. The former Orlando Magic No. 2 overall pick has finally come into his own back in his home state, and the Pacers have rallied around his ascent. Oladipo had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds in Game 3 while getting major help from small forward Bojan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic hit 11 of 15 from the field, including 7 of 9 from three-point range to finish with a game-high 30 points on the night and a +18 differential for his 36 minutes of court time. He hit 7 of the Pacers’ eight made threes, as the rest of the team shot 1 of 17 from three.
But it was enough, primarily because James is playing a one-man game for Cleveland and the Pacers are playing team basketball. It is a familiar theme, a great team overcoming a great player, but who expected the Pacers to play the role previously occupied by the Golden State Warriors?
At this point, perhaps the most intrigue lies in where James heads next because if the Cavs do bow out in this series it would be more than shocking to see him back in Cleveland.
James finished Game 3 with 28 points, eight assists and 12 boards, but the theme for his team was ever too familiar: a decent game from Kevin Love and a lot of nothing from everyone else. George Hill had 13 points, but only one assist. Kyle Korea did not score. J.R. Smith shot bricks mostly. The Cavaliers just do not have a team that can play together without James having extra-human performances and sometimes that still is not enough for them. In a game with EVEN odds, we like the Pacers to win by at least four or five points and take a commanding 3-1 edge back to Cleveland where it may even close the series out. It is a surprise, but maybe it should not be?