Unless you live in Indiana, you probably did not expect the Pacers to win their opening night matchup against the Cavaliers on Sunday, let alone dominate it to the tune of a 98-80 win. Most expected that once the series got started that “playoff Lebron” would step up and the Cavaliers would roll all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.
While there is still a good chance that the Cavaliers win the series, the Pacers proved on Sunday that they are not going to just roll over. The two will face off again on Wednesday night when the Pacers (1-0) travel to the Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cavaliers (0-1) with a 7:00 pm ET tipoff.
The spread comes in at the Indiana Pacers +8 and the Cleveland Cavaliers -8. The over/under for total points scored is set at 209.
Going into game one, if the Pacers had any chance of winning they were going to need a great defensive output and stellar play from star Victor Oladipo …they got both. Cleveland was only able to score 80 points in the opening night matchup. That is the lowest point total that the Pacers held a team to all season long. They were able to hold Lebron James to just 24 points on 41% shooting (7 for 17).
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Victor Oladipo was stellar in the first game. He scored 32 points on 58% shooting (11 for 19). He also added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. If the Pacers want a chance at upsetting the Cavaliers and Lebron James (who had a 21-game win streak in first round games snapped in the loss), they are going to need Oladipo to play like a superstar every night. The Pacers also got solid contributions from Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals), Myles Turner (16 points, 8 rebounds), and Lance Stephenson (12 points, 5 rebounds).
While the outcome is not what they wanted, Cavs fans can still remain positive about the series. In game one, the Cavaliers still outrebounded the Pacers (46-44), had more assists (21-19) and had more bench scoring (31-22). Also, the Cavaliers shot abysmally from the floor (38.5%) and from the three (23.5%). These figures are very likely to go up in game two as I truly expect to Lebron to take over the game from the get go.
Despite only scoring the 24 points, Lebron did not play awful in other areas. He still had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and 12 assists to go along with his scoring. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a lot of help. JR Smith was the next leading scorer with 15 and Larry Nance Jr. had 10, but no other Cav scored in double digits. Even though he only scored 9 points, Kevin Love did add 17 rebounds. In order to take some of the pressure off of Lebron, though, the Cavs need players like George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Kevin Love (from an offensive standpoint) to step up their games.
I have a tough time picking against Lebron and the Cavaliers, but I think Oladipo is showing that he has taken the next step in the playoffs (his previous high before Sunday was only 15 points) and that he is a star. I do actually think that the Cavaliers win this game, but I think the Pacers keep it within 8. In fact, against the spread, Indiana is 8-3 in their last 11 games, 4-1 in their last 5 on the road and 4-1 in their last 5 games against the Cavaliers. With all of that in mind, take the Pacers and the 8 points. My Pick: Indiana Pacers +8
If betting the over/under on total points, I am going with the over. I understand that they only combined for 178 in their first contest, but I think that the Cavaliers shoot much better from the field this time around. I like for this to be a higher scoring affair and for that reason, take the over.