At the beginning of the season, nobody would've expected the Indiana Pacers (7-9) and Cleveland Cavaliers (7-7) to be seperated by just 1 game this far into the season. The Pacers backups have held their own while LBJ and Kevin Love's transition to Cleveland has been a rough one. See who we like as our betting pick in this matchup.
Tip-off is scheduled for tonight at 7:30 pm ET at the Quickens Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
The NBA odds list the Cavs as a 9.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is 195.5.
Both teams have played well as of late, winning 6 out of their last 10 games. The question is can the Pacers make this a competitive game with David West back in the lineup, or will Lebron James take over the game and dominate as he has done recently in getting the Cavaliers to the .500 mark?
Lebron James is in a very difficult position. He's the best player on the planet, but there are also very good players on his team. He managed to win 2 titles with the Miami Heat, but we're hearing rumblings that Chris Bosh wasn't happy playing with Lebron because it hurt Bosh's game. On the Cavaliers, we've heard rumblings that Kevin Love is trying to find a way to fit into the Cleveland offense and is looking to play in Los Angeles in the future.
Lebron for the most part, has been diplomatic, saying that his minutes should be lowered. Let's face it; It's all about egos. Lebron brings championships and the players that are willing to sacrifice their numbers will get rings while players such as Chris Bosh, will see a bump in his statistics, but won't be playing for an NBA Title this season. It's a matter of being selfish.
Look for Lebron and the Cavaliers to work things out this season and be in the NBA Championships at the end of the season. Recently, Lebron has realized that he has to be the lead guy and it's reflected in more wins for the Cavs. There are no 2nd-stringers on the Indiana Pacers squad that can stop LBJ. I look for him to have a monster game against a gamed Pacers club.
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8th Spot in the Eastern Conference
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but the Indiana Pacers have managed to weather the storm fairly well without a single original starter in their lineup.
The return of David West was a huge boost last night in the Pacers 98-83 victory over the Orlando Magic. West managed to play 24 minutes and had 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists on 8 of 17 shooting from the field. The last thing that the Pacers want to do is overuse West and have a reoccurring injury, therefore I wouldn't expect any more than 25 minutes per game from the veteran.
Rodney Stuckey has also found a home in Indiana after a stint with the Detroit Pistons. Let's not forget that Stuckey was the leading scorer for the Pistons at one time. Last night, Stuckey came up big with 24 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field for Indy. Stuckey has had back to back 20 point games, but I wouldn't get carried away as he's really just a serviceable starter that can be inconsistent at times.
The Cavaliers are also coming off of a huge win over the Washington Wizards, 113-87. While Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving weren't left out of the offense, the King decided to take matters into his own hands as he led the Cavs with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals. Lebron made 17 trips to the foul line as he relentlessly drove the basketball to the hoop. Lebron has had back to back 29 point games while filling up the statsheets. He didn't come back home to lose and I expect him to be aggressive the same way that he was with Miami.
Taking nothing away from the Pacers ability to be resilient, they have no chance in this game. Lebron James has finally gotten "selfish" and knows that the only way for Cleveland to win a title is through him, and expect him to beat up on a team of 2nd stringers.
Free NBA Pick: Cleveland -9.5 at 5Dimes