Cavaliers Lead in the NBA Playoffs Odds Against the Pacers in Game 1

Posted by Michael Hunt on Friday,April 14, 2017 9:09, EDT in

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their final four games of the regular season and basically handed the East’s top seed to Boston. So the second-seeded Cavaliers open defense of their NBA title on Saturday afternoon when the Indiana Pacers come to town. The Cavs are solidly favored in the NBA odds.

Indiana at Cleveland Game 1 NBA Playoffs Odds & Preview

When: Saturday, April 15, 3 PM ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
TV: ABC
Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Indiana / Cleveland
NBA Odds: Cavs -8.5 (212.5)

Why Bet On Indiana?

The Pacers, less than two weeks ago, were three games under .500 and a better bet for the lottery than for the seventh seed. Then they rebounded and won their final five games by an average of 15 points each. Much of the heavy lifting has been done by Paul George, who upped his production from 21.7 ppg and 37.8 three-point percent to 26.8 ppg in March and 32.8 ppg in April, while shooting better than 42 percent from the arc.

Indiana’s head-to- head win against the Cavaliers this season in four tries came with LeBron James resting in November. However, Indiana did take Cleveland to double overtime at Quicken Loans Arena earlier this month before losing an epic game. The Pacers have a good chance to become the first team since the 2012 New York Knicks to win a game against James’ team in the opening round of the playoffs.

From 40-16 on Feb. 23, Cleveland went 11-15 the rest of the way. They went from outscoring opponents 111.5-105.9 to getting outscored 107.9-109.8 in those final 26 games. The teams that ranked lower than Cleveland in defensive rating (108.0, 22nd) are all headed to the draft lottery. Their work at that end  over the aforementioned final 26 games, 111.6, would have had them dead last over the full season.

The Pacers might not strike you as an elite three-point shooting team, but they own the fourth-best percentage in the NBA at 37%. They’re also No. 2 from the free throw line.

Why Bet On Cleveland?

For a team that finished 51-31, the Cavaliers’ situation entering the playoffs illuminates the difficulty of repeating and playing deep into the playoffs season after season after season. It’s physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. LeBron’s teams have not been the top seed four times (with Miami in 2011, 2012, 2014 and with Cleveland in 2015) and his teams still reached the Finals.

“We’re in a position where we can do something special, still,” James said. “At the end of the day, I’m not one to harp on what happened with the regular season through injuries, through bad losses, through good wins, whatever the case may be. We have a good club going into the postseason. That’s all you can ask for.”

The 32-year- old will be gunning for postseason history. James is less than 100 points away from passing Kobe Bryant for third place on the all-time postseason scoring list. LeBron is the first player in NBA history to average at least 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists while shooting .540 or better from the field in a single season. Kyrie Irving is shooting .905 from the foul line this season, which is the 5th highest mark in franchise history (min. 100 FTM).

The Cavs are 39-8 this season when they reach at least 110 points and 21-3 when scoring 120 points (Cavs had nine 120-point games in 2015-16). In a Feb. 6 overtime win at Washington (140-135), Cleveland had a season-high 140 points, which was their most in a game since April 9, 1992 (141 points vs. CHA) and the franchise’s most ever in a road game (prev. 137 on 2/28/84 at Kansas City Kings).

While the Pacers mustered a win against the Cavs in the regular season, it’ll be very hard for them to do the same in this first-round series. BPI give the Cavs an 80 percent chance to win the series.

Indiana at Cleveland Game 1 NBA Playoffs Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers

I do think this team can flip a switch. LeBron has won 17 straight first-round games.