Free NBA Picks: Cavaliers at Pacers Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/1/2013
I won't pretend that winning a division title means a whole lot in the NBA, other than for playoff seeding, but the Central Division might be the most interesting to watch all season. Obviously the Bulls and Pacers are NBA title contenders. The Pistons look much improved with the additions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. The Cavaliers are going to be a major force if Andrew Bynum actually can play significant minutes. The Bucks? Well, someone has to finish last.
In some ways, this is one of the most important seasons in the history of the Cavaliers franchise. If Kyrie Irving continues to show he's a rising superstar and players like Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett show major promise, a certain Akron native who left Cleveland for Miami could return this summer. A lot of that also depends on Bynum's knees. That's why it was so key to see Bynum log eight minutes in the Cavs' season-opening 98-94 mini-upset of Brooklyn. Yes, it's only eight minutes but a pretty good start for a guy who didn't play all last season and was in question to start this year. It was his first regular-season game since May 21, 2012. Bynum finished with three points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Extrapolate that over, say, 28 minutes a night (it will probably be a while before he gets to that number), and the Cavs are definitely a playoff team. Bynum had his best season in his final year with the Lakers under Mike Brown, the current (and former) Cavs coach, so maybe playing for Brown again brings that out.
The Cavaliers played in Charlotte on Friday night, while Indiana was off.
Cavaliers at Pacers Betting Story Lines
The Pacers, as expected, have won their first two games of the season, beating Orlando and New Orleans. Indiana rallied from a 16-point deficit at the Pelicans, but that sluggishness was to be expected playing in the second of a back-to-back on Wednesday. You could see their legs were tired as the Pacers shot 35.3 percent in the first half -- to trail by 14 at intermission -- and 50 percent in the second. That's the sign of a good, focused team. Win on a night you are tired and playing an obviously inferior opponent.
Giving Paul George that huge extension before the season looks like a smart move as George looks like an early MVP candidate, averaging 28.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. He's shooting 55.6 percent on two-pointers and a very good 41.2 percent from long range -- that was a weakness last season. The Pacers have blocked a whopping 30 shots already -- Roy Hibbert has 12 of them. He's not scoring much yet (7.0 points per game), but Indiana hasn't needed him to. Ditto on big offseason addition Luis Scola (7.0 ppg in 18.5 minutes per game). It will be interesting to see how the Pacers use Danny Granger when he returns from injury in about three weeks. They certainly were fine without him last season, and Indiana may have him come off the bench and keep Lance Stephenson in the starting lineup. Otherwise George would have to play shooting guard, and there's obviously no reason to mess with what he's doing.
Oddly, the Pacers haven't used free-agent addition Chris Copeland for a minute yet this season. It was thought he would see a decent amount of playing time, especially with Granger out. Copeland isn't a good defensive player, however, and that's what is likely keeping him on the bench.
Because the Cavs played on Friday night, we might not see Bynum in this game. I'm assuming the team will play it extra cautious with him in the second of back-to-backs like the Knicks are with Amare Stoudemire. One guy I am hugely rooting for on the Cavs is Thompson, who made an unprecedented switch from shooting left-handed last season to righty this year. So far so good as he was 8-for-13 from the field and led the Cavs with 18 points and nine rebounds in the opener.
Cavaliers at Pacers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Pacers opened as 7.5-point favorites with a total of 190.5. The Cavs are 4-1 ATS in their past five Saturday games. They are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 road games against teams with a winning record. Indiana is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 home games. The “over” is 7-0 in the Cavs' past seven against the Central Division. The over Is 9-4 in the Pacers' past 13 home games. Cleveland is 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The “under” is 5-2-1 in the past eight in Indiana.
Free NBA Picks: Cavaliers at Pacers Betting Predictions
Indiana swept the season series with Cleveland last season and has won six straight against the Cavs overall. The only game that wasn't decided by double digits in 2012-13 was the most recent meeting on April 9. The Pacers won 99-94 at home, rallying from a 20-point deficit by outscoring Cleveland 35-10 in the fourth. George averaged 16.3 points against the Cavs last season, but all five Pacers starters averaged in double figures. Irving led the Cavs by averaging 18.3 ppg against Indiana (he missed one game), while Thompson averaged 11.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.
Bynum essentially will be a game-time decision for most of the first few months, and I don't expect him to play in this one. I'm sure Brown realizes it would be easier to win in Charlotte with a handful of minutes from Bynum rather than having him go up against Hibbert and one of the NBA's most physical teams. Plus, the Cavs will be a bit winded and were terrible on the road last season, so you have to like Indiana in a mini-blowout. Take the under.
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