The Jazz and Rockets combined for 213 points last night, which topped a light 209 Total and got me my second win in a row. I’ll head into Friday night’s solid 8-game NBA betting slate with a streak going and a decent 11-8 season mark with my NBA picks.
There are several options to choose from on this slate, but the one game I have my eye on goes down in Indiana, where the Pacers host the scorching hot Cleveland Cavaliers.
This could be an interesting one, as Vegas is handing this showdown a nice 218.5 Total and the Cavs are on quite the tear (13 straight wins). That streak could be snapped at any time, but the Pacers don’t defend well and are an inferior team. This game could also serve as a measuring stick for Indy, although the Pacers already beat the Cavaliers earlier this year by 17.
Should you back the Pacers again on their home floor, or will Cleveland be out for blood? Let’s break this one down further to see which way you might want to bet tonight:
Cleveland Cavaliers (-3.5) @ Indiana Pacers (+3.5) Total: 218.5
Let’s cut to the chase; I love the Cavs as a straight up bet tonight. Bettors can get them at a nice price (-170 at BetOnline) and if you hunt for lines, perhaps you’ll find one tighter than that. This spread is dicey and I don’t really trust the Pacers, though, so the only other bet I’d consider is the Over.
These teams are putting up 108 and 111 points on the year, respectively, and with this game in Indy, the pace favors the Pacers. That being said, Cleveland’s improvement on defense makes me shy away from this bet. Cleveland shot 50% from the floor in the first meeting and still lost, which might suggest better defensive play would close the gap.
The first reason I’m all-in on the Cavs is that the Pacers don’t play any defense. Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison are solid up front as isolation defenders, but this team as a whole isn’t scary on that end of the floor. Considering Indiana’s defense ranks just 19th in the league in terms of efficiency, I’m not feeling great about their chances of stifling the Cavs.
It’s certainly worth a look anytime a solid team is an underdog on their home floor, though. Indy has also been strong overall against the spread (15-10) this year. However, when chosen to be an underdog at home, they’re just 2-4 against the spread and 2-4, overall.
The Pacers absolutely can keep this game interesting if they’re clicking offensively. They hung a whopping 124 points on the Cavs in Cleveland earlier this year and have been one of the more dynamic offenses in the NBA this year. The stats don’t lie, as the Pacers enter tonight’s matchup ranked 9th in pace and 6th in offensive efficiency.
The problem is Indy faced the Cavs when they were struggling. Cleveland isn’t having a tough time in any regard these days. The Cavs have ripped off 13 wins in a row and they’ve flexed some defensive muscle and/or won in dominant fashion in several of those contests.
There is also the case of a little revenge as Cleveland tries to add to an impressive wins streak. They had to have been embarrassed by Indiana the first time around, as that was a 17-point whooping on their home floor.
Cleveland has improved so much during this winning streak that what was formerly the league’s very worst defense has risen to 23rd overall. I know LeBron James and company usually don’t care about the regular season, but this team needed to work on their chemistry and also rediscover their pride. They did both and everyone is seeing the results of that.
Indy is a dangerous underdog at home, but against a good Cavs team that is cruising these days, I’d need more value than +150. Cleveland at any price below -200 feels like a value buy right now and I’ll take -170 and run for a straight up win.