NBA Eastern Conference First Round Betting Preview: #2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #7 Indiana Pacers

2017 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference First Round
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #7 Indiana Pacers
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Cavaliers -1050 / Pacers +675 (Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks)

Game #1 – Saturday, April 15, 2017, 3:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio
Opening Line: Cleveland -8 1/2
Current Line: Cleveland -8 1/2
Opening Total: 212 1/2
Current Total: 212 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cavaliers -420 / Pacers +330
Current Money Line: Cavaliers -430 / Pacers +345

The Cavaliers open defense of their NBA title in the first round of the playoffs Saturday in Cleveland against the Indiana Pacers.

The defending Champion Cleveland Cavaliers are limping into the playoffs. They went 23-23 down the stretch, due to a combination of injuries to key players J.R. Smith and Kevin Love, and prioritizing resting for the playoffs over clinching the #1 seed in the East. The Cavaliers were even overtaken by the Boston Celtics for the #1 seed in the conference, after Cleveland lost their last four games. Still the Cavaliers are a prohibitive favorite to win the East and return to the NBA finals for the third straight season.

First up, the Cavaliers will take on the 42-40 Indiana Pacers in the first round starting Saturday in Cleveland. Cleveland is the #2 seed in the East and won the Central Division by 9 games over the Milwaukee Bucks and Pacers. Indiana is the #7 seed and lost a tiebreaker to the Bucks for the #6 seed. The Pacers have won five straight games to close out the regular season.

Cleveland won the regular season series against Indiana 3-1. The Pacers won the first meeting at home 103-93 in November. The Cavaliers won the last three games all since February 8. Cleveland won in Indianapolis 132-117, plus twice at home 113-104 and 135-130 in double overtime April 2. The two division rivals are meeting in the playoffs for only the second time and first time since the first round in 1998. The Pacers are a familiar playoff foe for LeBron James though as he and the Miami Heat beat Indiana in the playoffs for three straight seasons from 2012-2014.

Cleveland is coached by Tyronn Lue. The Cavaliers are 36-43-3 ATS and the total is 47-34-1 this season. Indiana is coached by Nate McMillan. The Pacers are 39-42-1 ATS and the total is 41-41 this season.

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Indiana is being outscored 105.3-105.1 this season. The Pacers are shooting 46.5% from the field and 37.6% from three point range. Indiana is in the top ten in both categories. The Pacers make 81% of their free throws and are #2 in that category. Opponents are shooting 45.1% from the field and 35.5% from three point range. The Pacers are #13 or better in both categories. Indiana averages 42 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.3 per game. The Pacers average 22.5 assists, 13.3 turnovers, 8.2 steals and 5 blocks per game.

Forward Paul George averages 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Jeff Teague averages 15.3 points, 4 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is probable with an ankle injury. Forward Myles Turner averages 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds. 1.3 assists and 2.1 blocks per game. Forward Thaddeus Young averages 11 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game.  Forward C.J. Miles averages 10.7 points and 3 rebounds per game. Forward Myles Turner averages 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds. 1.3 assists and 2.1 blocks per game. Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Rodney Stuckey, Lance Stephenson, Glenn Robinson III and Aaron Brooks will also get minutes in the rotation. Robinson (calf) and Jefferson (ankle) are both questionable.

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Cleveland is outscoring teams 110-107 this season. Cleveland is #4 in scoring but #20 in points allowed.  The Cavaliers are shooting 47% from the field including 38.4% from three point range. Cleveland is in the top five in both categories. The Cavaliers make 74.8% of their free throws and are #23 in that category. Opponents are shooting 45.8% from the field and 36.1% from three point range. Cleveland averages 43.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.2 per game. The Cavaliers average 22.7 assists, 13.7 turnovers, 6.6 steals and 4 blocks per game.

LeBron James averages 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. James is having another MVP quality season. Kyrie Irving averages 25.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is probable with a knee injury. Kevin Love averages 19 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He missed around 20 games with a knee injury and several games down the stretch for rest. Kyle Korver averages 10.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Channing Frye averages 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. J.R. Smith averages 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.  Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Deron Williams, and Derrick Williams  will also get minutes in the rotation.

Indiana is 6-0 ATS overall, against Eastern Conference teams and after scoring 100 points or more, 5-0 after a cover, 4-0 after a win, in first round games, and against teams with winning records, 20-6 on two days rest, 21-10-1 against Central Division teams, 3-7 in road games, and 1-6 against teams with winning home records. The Pacers are 8-2-1 ATS against the Cavaliers, including 4-1 in Cleveland.

Cleveland is 17-8 ATS in first round games, 18-37-1 against Central Division teams, 3-7-1 at home, 15-35-2 after a double digit loss, 4-10 after allowing more than 100 points, 1-4 in Saturday games, 3-12-1 after a double digit home loss, and 1-6-1 against teams with winning records. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in this series recently.

Part of the reason Cleveland has struggled in the second half of the season is the defense has been terrible. It might not matter against the Pacers who aren’t great on defense either, but it will come back to haunt the Cavaliers later in the playoffs. I think the Cavs simply have too much for the Pacers, and I think they win the series in five games. I like Cleveland to win game one in a high scoring game.

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