Do You Dare Trust Cavs as Favorites in Game 2 Wednesday vs. Pacers?

pacers cavs

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 2:16 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 2:16 PM UTC

Cleveland trailed by as many as 23 points in their series-opening home loss to Indiana, ultimately losing 98-80. Can the Cavaliers bounce back in the next battle Wednesday night?

NBA Wednesday:Pacers (18-13 ATS as road dogs) vs. Cavaliers (11-26-1 ATS as home faves)Free NBA Pick: Pacers +8Best Line Offered: Intertops

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LeBron James had won 21 first-round games in a row and 12 straight series openers to start his playoff journey with his teammates. Both those streaks are now over and it happened emphatically. It figures this would be the team that would end those improbable streaks, based on the turnover Cleveland went through and how they played all season.

Asked if he was worried being down to Indiana, James answered this way: "I'm down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So, I'm the last guy to ask about how you're going to feel the next couple days."

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On the NBA odds board, Cleveland is an 8-point favorite for Game 2 on Wednesday night (7:05 ET; TNT). Does anyone feel even remotely comfortable backing a team that is 0-7 ATS revenging a straight-up loss as a favorite of -7 or more this season?

Cavaliers Facing Another Hole

That's the way it's been all year it seems for Cleveland -- one step forward, one and a half stumble steps backward. There might be players like LeBron with championship pedigree, but this is not a team with the typical championship mix, lacking the formula of three tremendous players.

Kevin Love is the third person who could make a champion, but he's been elevated to the No. 2 spot and he had nine points on Sunday. If there is a third star, it's not apparent. Couple that with the Cavs being a bit of a one-trick pony, ranked fourth in three-point attempts and coming off an abysmal 8-for-34 showing, this group does not inspire confidence.

Nevertheless, Cleveland still has LBJ, leaving the possibilities open, and coach Tyronn Lue implored publicly he wants to have James aggressive from the start to set the proper tone for his teammates.

Indiana Has No Fear

Last year at this time the Pacers were in the process of being swept by Cleveland, but the scoring differential was only 16 total points. Indiana traded Paul George instead of seeing him leave for nothing in free agency and were supposed to slide this season. That did not happen, as Indiana was 48-34 and defeated the Cavaliers three of four times before Game 1.

The Pacers took the action to the Cavs from the opening tip Sunday, leading 25-8 and never looking back.

Victor Oladipo was the main catalyst with 32 points, but Indiana was more ready, aggressive and physical the entire contest. Coach Nate McMillan will explain to his team it takes four victories to win a series, and having a 2-0 lead heading home would be a huge boost. Do not expect the Pacers to be intimidated or satisfied with just one win.

What to Expect for Outcome

Plain and simple, LeBron has to score and be a facilitator to rev up Cleveland. Love has to want the ball more and the team's 37-percent accuracy from behind the arc during the regular season has to manifest itself. Lue's guys have to generate more deflections and his team has to commit to transition basketball.

Indiana needs to dictate tempo again and play with the same purpose. The Cavaliers will make more three's. However, they do a poor job defending three-point attempts, so as long the Pacers stay within two of 3's made they are in the game.

With my NBA picks I'm going to take Indiana plus the points. They will hang around, and I don't trust the Cavs to come through.

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