Cleveland at Indiana
Time: 6 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: IND -1
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Cleveland Cavaliers were blown out badly in Game 1, but is often the case, the losing team rebounded and produced a much tougher Game 2 performance, indeed, emerging as victors. LeBron James and company now head to Indianapolis with a 1-1 series and a crucial Game 3 set to tip off at 6 PM (CT) on ESPN. The Pacers are 1-point favorites in NBA odds at 5dimes, with a betting total set at 207.5 points according to the bookmaker.
The 207.5 point betting total is a little precarious. Neither team scored 100 points in Game 1, and Game 2 saw a point total of just 197. Oddsmakers are expecting more offense, but should they? In the opening quarter of Game 2, the Pacers scored just 18 points, and the third quarter was a bummer of the Cavs as they mustered just 16 points, despite besting the Pacers in the end. Needless to expound, we love the UNDER on the point total in this game.
And that is even with James doing all he can to will his team to a series victory. LeBron scored 46 points in Game 2 while shooting 17 of 24 from the field and 10 of 13 from the line. He added a dozen boards and five assists while posting a +7 mark for his 40 minutes of court time. The Cavs won despite its second-leading scorer Kevin Love managing only 15 points on an abysmal 5 of 16 shooting performance. Kyle Korver added another 12. Outside of that? The Cavs were just 20 of 49 from the floor EXCLUDING James from the shot count. He needs more help, but when the team parted with Kyrie Irving to obtain Isaiah Thomas—a dynamic scoring machine, then parted with him just because he was slumping, what can it expect?
Sure, the Cavaliers did receive Jordan Clarkson for Thomas (as well as super role player Larry Nance Jr), but Clarkson only played 14 minutes in Game 2 while attempting a measly four shots. Beyond that, starting point guard George Hill is capable of doing much more than taking three shots in 20 minutes. Outside of Love and James, no Cavalier attempted more than eight field goals, and if you take Korver out of that, no one more than five.
The Cavs had only 15 assists in the game, which matched its 15 turnovers. It is difficult to believe all of the aforementioned things can do anything but bring a loss, but he we are, simply because James’ legend carried a woeful cast to a win. This team may be worse than his 2007 Cavaliers (who were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals), and yet no one is quite ready to write off Cleveland, and it really does not involve any mental acrobatics to figure James is the one reason why. Love is a shadow of the monster he was in Minnesota, and outside of that pair, the team is little more than role players. There is no “Big Three” and to even say there is a “Big Two” is stretching the limitations of imagination since Love only occasionally looks like the beast he should still easily be.
As for the Pacers, it is not loaded with star power either, but a 48-win season on the shoulders of likely Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo speaks for itself. Beyond that, Myles Turner awoke from his slumber for a strong Game 2 as he scored 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Oladipo was consistent and solid with 22 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes of play (while also posting a +11 plus-minus). Perhaps the Pacers lack depth, but Lance Stephenson is not nicknamed “Always Ready” for no reason (or is he?), and Trevor Booker is a superb energy-bringer backing up Thaddeus Young.
The Pacers have a host of underrated talents, which is what enabled the team to make the postseason in a year most were expecting a trip to the lottery. Is that enough to overcome James? Probably, yes. Expect the Pacers to respond to being on its home court and emerge with a victory tonight, while covering the 1-point spread with alacrity. Oladipo should be ready to put on a show for his home crowd, and splitting the two games in Cleveland was as realistically favorable as the Pacers could have hoped for since Indiana now has “home court advantage” in the series.