Indiana Pacers (26-22) at Cleveland Cavaliers (27-19)
Today we have a nice full slate of NBA action. There are ten games on the schedule for this evening, and as we inch closer to the playoffs, the action is really heating up! Today we will focus in on two teams heading in different directions as the resurgent Indiana Pacers travel to Cleveland to face Lebron James and the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Indiana Pacers will travel to Cleveland, Ohio Friday night to face off against a Cavaliers team that is in freefall. The Pacers are having a great start to 2018 as they are 7-4 in the New Year and have managed to climb all the way up to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Cavs on the other hand, are just 3-7 since the start of 2018 and have dropped down from a possible one seed to only being two games out of the six seed in the East. The addition of Isiah Thomas to the starting rotation has not gone well, and the Cavs are reeling as of late. The Cavaliers are -6-point home favorites tonight. The game total over-under is set at 223 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM PST from Quicken Loans Arena.
What more can be said about the Cleveland Cavaliers that already hasn’t been said in the last two weeks? This team is in the middle of one of the biggest collapses in NBA history. Just about everyone had Lebron James heading to his eight straight NBA finals this year as Cleveland looked like the class of the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs played that part to a T for most of the first half of the season as they trailed only the Boston Celtics for the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. And that was without Kyrie Irving’s replacement at the point, Isaiah Thomas, even playing. Big things were expected out of Cleveland once Thomas got healthy and hit the floor.
Then Isaiah Thomas got healthy and hit the floor…. The addition of Thomas to the Cavs rotation has been nothing short of a complete and utter disaster. Thomas has been holding the ball for way too long and jacking up way too many shots. If people thought that Kyrie and James weren’t a great fit because Kyrie liked having the ball too much, they should take a look at what is going on in Cleveland right now. There is only one basketball, and Lebron and Thomas can’t both have it.
Throw in the fact that Kevin Love stopped trying and is faking injuries, and Tyrone Lue has clearly lost the locker room, and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic implosion. If the Cavs lose tonight to the Pacers, they will only be one game ahead of Indiana, and if the recent struggles continue they could find themselves at the six seed, or even lower.
Cleveland needs to figure out how to get Thomas to either share the ball or come off the bench and lead the second team. Having him and Lebron on the same court just isn’t going to work out, and until they can figure that out, I am looking for ways to fade them.
The Indiana Pacers are an increasingly good story this season. After shipping off Paul George in the off-season, it looked like a multi-year rebuild in Indiana. Turns out that’s not the case as the Pacers are in a good spot to make the playoffs, and with a recent surge, could end up as a top-four seed.
Victor Oladipo was just named to his first All-Star team, and it was well deserved. Oladipo is starting to realize some of that potential that had people comparing him to Michael Jordan coming out of college. He wasn’t deserving of that comparison then, nor is he now, but the youngster is really coming into his own in Indiana. Oladipo is going for 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists a game.
The other big surprise in Indiana this year has been the play of Domantas Sabonis. The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis has turned into a double-double machine this season. After a lackluster rookie campaign, Sabonis has used great positioning and footwork to pick up 12 points and over 8 boards a game. Sabonis is taking much better shots this season as well as last year he shot just 39% from the field and this season he is shooting a vastly improved 54% from the field.
When this line posted, I wondered if the public was finally going to jump on the hate train with me. I have been betting against Cleveland just about every game since Isaiah Thomas has come back and I am absolutely crushing it. This line opened at Cleveland -5 points, and it was quickly bet up to -6. And I for one, just can’t understand why. Cleveland has a LOT of talent. But right now, they are spending all their energy fighting each other, not the other team.
All the talk in media has been about where Lebron will go after the season, Kevin Love getting traded, Tyrone Lue getting fired. These aren’t the headlines you want if you are trying to win basketball games. Everyone is talking about everything in Cleveland, except how to win basketball games. I am going to keep looking to fade the Cavs every chance that I get until they figure out a way for Lebron and Thomas to coexist.
Maybe Lue should go all Tonya Harding on Thomas to get back to a rotation he can win with? All joking aside, I can’t imagine backing the Cavs as -6-point favorites right now against just about anybody. The fact that I get to back a Pacer’s team that is looking like it might have things figured out at the moment is just a cherry on top.
Give me the Indian Pacers +6 points tonight in Cleveland.