Underdog Pacers to Cover vs. Cavaliers in Game 5 Wednesday

pacers cavs

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 4:13 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2018 4:13 PM UTC

Cleveland regained home-court advantage with a Game 4 victory over Indiana, squaring the first-round series at 2 and setting up a key meeting Wednesday night (7:05 ET; TNT).

NBA Wednesday:Pacers (25-18 ATS away) vs. Cavaliers (13-29-1 ATS home)Free NBA Pick: Pacers +6.5Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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After four games in this first-round series, the most striking element might be how LeBron James' career is coming full circle. In his early days with Cleveland, everything revolved around him; the other players had roles to fulfill. The Cavaliers had a lot of success doing this but did not have the overall star power to win championships, which is why LeBron left.

Though still one of the best if not the best player in basketball, the King's team is 100 percent reliant on him. Cleveland's success or failure depends on if the King's court has individuals playing like knights or court jesters.

For Wednesday's pivotal Game 5, the NBA odds board has the Cavs as 6.5-point home favorites, with a total of 205. The favorite is 1-3 ATS in the series, and the "under" is a perfect 4-0.

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Cleveland's Bench Has To Deliver

It's safe to say Indiana's practices and discussion of adjustments for this series have not focused a lot of time talking about the Cavaliers' bench players. Yet they do not win Game 4 without Jordan Clarkson's 12 points. The simple truth is LBJ can start and finish for Cleveland, but he needs help in the middle sections of games.

Kyle Korver has added more as a clutch shooter (never his strong suit in the postseason), but if the Cavs are going to win this confrontation and the series, Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. or somebody coming off the chairs will have to make positive and important contributions.

Indiana Needs Faster Starts

Since outscoring Cleveland 33-14 in the first quarter in the series opener, the Pacers have been outpointed by 32 points in the opening stanza. Indiana has not matched the Cavaliers' aggressiveness at the start of games. For anyone making NBA picks, we all know it's how you finish, not how you start in this league, and Indiana has won the fourth quarter on three occasions, but not in the game they just lost.

That is why it is imperative they carry the action and place the pressure on Cleveland from the start, instead of playing from behind.

This matters when you are facing the same team game after game and being down 10 points each time. This has a tendency to wear on a team mentally. Taking a first-quarter lead or at least playing even can do wonders for a club mentally.

What to Expect for Outcome

The last three games in the series have been decided by nine total points. Over four quarters the contests have been very competitive and there is little reason to imagine that will not be the case again. I'll back Indiana with the points, as they are 8-2 ATS recently in northern Ohio and 16-5 ATS when playing with two days rest on the road.

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