The Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Indiana Pacers in this battle of Eastern Conference rivals. Find out where the best betting value is to be had as we share our free NBA pick ATS.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-6) vs. Indiana Pacers 7:05 ET
The Cavs and the Pacers have completely changed roles since last season, as those placing NBA picks all season can attest to. At the close of the 2014 NBA regular season, Indiana had the best record in the East at 56-26 SU. Cleveland was an also ran at 33-49 SU. This year, with a recent winning streak, Cleveland has ascended to 31-20 SU, good for 3rd place in the East. Indiana has dipped to 12th place in the East with a record of 18-32 SU. Let’s examine why these teams have switched places in the standings and look at the pointspread prognosis for this Friday night game.
Since the close of last season, Indiana traded Lance Stephenson and lost their best player, Paul George, to a knee injury. Latest reports are that George could well return to the team before the end of the season. Indiana has also been compromised by the loss of PG Hill, who has missed all but 11 games with injury. Indiana was one of the best defensive teams in the NBA last season, allowing 92 PPG. This year, that number has swelled to 97 PPG. Last year, the Pacers were 35-6 SU at home, the best home record in the NBA. This season, Indiana is 10-13 SU, 9-14 ATS on their home boards with a record of 2-6 ATS as home dog. After dominating Cleveland in recent seasons, the Pacers lost to the Cavs (109-97) in this year’s first meeting. Indiana limps into tonight on a 3-9 SU, 4-10 ATS slide. The good news is that Hill has returned for the last 6 games, over which time they are 3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS. In fact, with Hill available, Indiana is 6-5 SU averaging 100 PPG. Without Hill, the Pacers are 12-27 SU averaging 94 PPG. Though Hill will bolster the backcourt, the Pacers will be compromised up front tonight without interior forces, Allen and Mahinmi. It is doubtful Indiana has enough fire power to compete with a torrid Cleveland team.
Cleveland dipped to the nadir of their discontent with a 19-20 SU record in early January. Their best interior player, Varejao, was lost for the season with injury, while scoring force Waiters was traded and LeBron James was resting ailing knees. Savvy trades by Cleveland management acquired Mozgov to replace Varejao, added JR Smith to replace Waiters, along with Shumpert (a defensive specialist). These three teamed with superstar scorers, James, Love and Irving, to form immediate chemistry that has resulted in a 12-0 SU, 10-2 ATS run. Ironically, it has been a vastly improved defense, allowing just 92 PPG on 41% shooting in the last 10 games that has keyed the run. Last night, Cleveland whipped the LA Clippers (105-94). It was a game in which they led by 32 points in the 3rd quarter, providing them the opportunity to rest their starters for this win and travel scenario.
Pacers are clearly a better team with PG Hill in the lineup. But without Allen and Mahinmi, they have no chance to slow down the runaway train that has become the Cleveland Cavaliers.
NBA Picks: Take Cleveland Cavaliers at BookMaker