Cleveland Cavaliers (26-15) at Indiana Pacers (21-20)
We won our second straight game last night when we backed the Boston Celtics against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a very rare for the NBA, neutral site game, as it was played at the O2 Arena in London, England. You could tell the bookmakers weren’t sure about the neutral floor as the number came out as a tight one. I’ll say it right now, I love what the Sixers are doing this year, but in no world should they be in a tight line with the Boston Celtics. I loved the Celtics -3, and even though they came out super flat and couldn’t hit a shot in the first half, they still dominated the rest of the game and won and covered easily 114-103. Every once in a while, you see a line that makes you say huh? This was one of them, it didn’t make sense before the game, and it certainly doesn’t make sense now after the game. The game I will break down tonight gave me a similar reaction. When I first saw the line for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers tonight, I said to myself, really?
The Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to Indianapolis tonight to face the Pacers. The Cavs come in struggling badly since the newly acquired Isiah Thomas has been put in the starting lineup. Cleveland has lost three of their last four games and six out of their last eight. This is the third and final game of a disastrous road trip that has seen Cleveland go 0-2 and get blown out by an average of thirty points a game. The Pacers have been hanging around .500 all year long, and it looks like they might have finally found a good rotation and are poised to break through with a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are -2.5-point road favorites tonight. The game total over-under is set at 221 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a huge move last year in the offseason when they swapped all-world point guards with the Boston Celtics. They sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics in exchange for 30 point a game scorer, Isiah Thomas. The move has seemingly worked out well for Boston as the Celtics have the best record in the NBA. We had had to sit back, and play wait and see for Cleveland, as Thomas has missed the first couple of months of the year with a hip injury.
Thomas is finally healthy and in the starting lineup for Cleveland on this road trip. But to say it is off to a rocky start would be quite the understatement. With Thomas in the starting lineup, the Cavs have gone 1-2, the last two of which have seen them get completely blown out by the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland is on a three-game road trip that has started at 0-2 with an average margin of loss over 30 points.
When the Cavs swapped Irving for Thomas, many wondered just how well the young guard would gel with Lebron James. James is a great facilitator but likes to have the ball in his hands. That was a big reason why Kyrie forced a trade out of Cleveland, he wanted the ball and was sick of playing second fiddle to King James. Thomas also is a guy that likes having the ball a lot, and there was concern that he might not like to share, even with the best player in the world.
Well, the sample size is way too short of one, and this team is much too talented to struggle like this for too long, but the Isiah Thomas era in Cleveland has started out with the guard jacking up, and missing, a lot of shots. James is clearly differing to Thomas at this point, and letting him get his shooting rhythm back after months off, but he needs to stop that asap as the results have been horrific for Cleveland. This is Lebron’s team and the sooner that Thomas figures that out, the better for the Cavs.
Look, I am the first person to tell you that you should never overreact to a small sample size of games. There is just no way the Cavs are as bad as their last two games. But with the recent major change to their lineup, I think you should take a closer look. This isn’t a rough patch on the schedule where the team has lost some motivation and let a couple of games slip by while they took nights off. This was a major change to their rotation and Cleveland has clearly not adapted to having Thomas run the point yet.
I wonder how well this experiment will work out in Cleveland. There is only one basketball, and Thomas and Lebron can’t keep fighting over it. It took the Oklahoma City Thunder six weeks to figure out how to share the ball between Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony. The answer for OKC eventually being that they forced Melo to take a back seat. I wonder how long it will take the Cavs to figure out that they need to calm Thomas down and that he can’t be jacking up bad shots all game long.
Until they show me they have figured out this new lineup, I am going to look to fade the Cavs as much as I can. They are on the road, playing a back to back, after getting blown out by thirty in two straight games. They are playing a Pacers teams that is much better at home than they are on the road and should be well rested after taking the night off at home, with no travel last night. All signs point to this being a close game and favoring the home team. And I am getting points! I have no choice but to snatch them up and see how the Thomas experiment continues to unfold for the Cavs. They are going to figure it out eventually, let’s just hope it’s not tonight on the road in Indiana. Give me the Indiana Pacers as home dogs tonight getting +2.5 points.