- Surprising Cavaliers in Indiana to take on Pacers in a battle of 3-1 clubs
- Pacers rank top-10 in both scoring and points allowed this season
- Check the odds, analysis and our betting prediction below
Welcome to the bizarro start of the NBA season, where a New Year’s eve matchup pits the surprising 3-1 Cleveland Cavaliers against the equally impressive 3-1 Indiana Pacers, a battle between two teams tied for the third seed in the Eastern Conference a week into the year.
Both are coming off their first losses of the season — the Cavs were doused by the Knicks, while the Pacers couldn’t close the deal against the Celtics in the second half of a back-to-back.
Vegas definitely believes in Indy’s staying power, listing them as hefty 7-point favorites in the first meeting between these teams this season.
Cavaliers vs Pacers Odds
|Cleveland Cavaliers||+7 (-110)||+240||Ov 216 (-110)|
|Indiana Pacers||-7 (-110)||-195||Un 216 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel taken December 30. Tip-off is Thursday at 3pm ET
It’s about as full-scale a rebuild as you can imagine in the ‘Land, but can the Cavaliers hang with one of the projected playoff teams in the conference?
Big And Small Ruling Cavaliers
Enjoy it while it lasts: Cleveland — perennial losers after LeBron leaves — currently have a better record than the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. Of course, they’re also looking up at the undefeated Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic (at least as of press time).
THE YOUNG BULL ?
Collin Sexton after 2 games ?
And the Cavs are 2-0pic.twitter.com/S11qlT217L
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 27, 2020
The Cavaliers are being powered by the small guard tandem of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, who are showing flashes of being an issue in the years to come. Sexton has started out on fire, averaging 25.3 points on 53.5% shooting from the field, and an even crisper 53.8% from beyond the arc. He’s also chipping in 3.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds.
Garland is adding playmaking to his 18.5 points per game, as he leads the team with 7.8 assists, while shooting 48.3% from the field and 45.5% from deep. Both guards are 6-foot-1, and that might pose a problem some nights, but they’re aided with some of the best back-line bulk in the league.
Too tough, @AndreDrummond ?
? #CavsHornets on @FOXSportsCLE pic.twitter.com/SPYzShVXsi
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 24, 2020
Andre Drummond is up to his usual big man tricks, eating up boards at a league-leading 15.3 per game, while also chipping 19.8 points, 2.8 blocks (3rd) and 2.8 steals (tied for 2nd with teammate Larry Nance Jr). Playing for a new contract, Drummond is anchoring a defense that is fifth in the NBA is points allowed per contest.
Everyone Involved In Indiana
New Pacers’ head coach Nate Bjorkgren is pulling right from the Toronto Raptors’ playbook. An assistant on the Raps’ title team, he’s emphasizing pace and passing on offense, while keeping some hard-nosed defensive chops from previous head coach Nate MacMillan.
So far the results have been outstanding. Indiana ranks top-10 in scoring and scoring defense.
Victor Oladipo spin cycle. ? (via @BleacherReport) pic.twitter.com/GYXLnRMGxO
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) December 30, 2020
On offense, three players are averaging better than 20 points and six players are scoring in double digits, with six players attempting more than nine field goal attempts a game and no one more than 17. This equal-opportunity offense has seen the Pacers average 28 assists a night, a top-5 mark in the NBA.
Victor Oladipo is having a nice resurgence after a leg injury sapped his explosiveness and all-star talent for the better part of the last two seasons. ‘Dipo is averaging 22.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting a blistering 61.4% from the field and 56.3% from three.
Domantas Sabonis. Game winner. Pacers beat the Celtics 108-107. pic.twitter.com/3jTqmV523j
— Tony East (@TEastNBA) December 28, 2020
Talented big man Domantas Sabonis has been all-around spectacular, averaging 21.8 points, 11 rebounds and a team-leading 7.8 assists per game. Malcolm Brogdon rounds out their big three at 20.8 points and 6.5 assists.
What’s The Best Bet?
Maybe the Pacers only needed a fresh voice and perspective, as Bjorkgren is rewarding the team’s defensive efforts with a system that keeps all of them well fed on offense. If Oladipo can maintain his current form, Indy can contend for a top-4 seed.
Cleveland is also dealing with injuries in this one, with Kevin Love out with a calf injury and rookie Isaac Okoro on the health and safety protocol. Both also missed the loss to the Knicks. It might be a wonky start to the season, but this one should stay true to betting form.
The pick: Pacers +7 (-110)