Inside The Cleveland Cavaliers Slow ATS Playoff Start
The Cleveland Cavaliers are winning basketball games in the playoffs, but it isn’t pretty and it certainly isn’t profitable. The Cavs have been installed as (-9) home favorites for each of their first two games against the Indiana Pacers. Both times the result has been a non-cover win. Cleveland barely escaped the opener 109-108 and then won 117-111 on Monday night.
There are worse things than winning unimpressively—one need only ask the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, two favorites that lost home openers outright. But it is fair to ask if Cleveland is going to continue to be a moneyburner in the Eastern Conference playoffs and if they have any shot at beating whichever powerhouse emerges from the West in the NBA Finals.
To help answer that question, let’s look at some common threads from Games 1 & 2 with Indiana…
*Cleveland has been outperformed in the fourth quarter both times. They held an 18-point lead after three quarters in Game 2 before Indiana rallied for the cover. But in either case—Game 1, where they nearly coughed up a lead and had to stop one final possession to win outright—or in Game 2 where they simply let the Pacers make it close, the result has been the same—lost money for Cavs backers.
*It comes as no surprise that faulty defense is the culprit. The Cavs were a below-average team defensively all year and shockingly bad by the standards of a title contender. Indiana shot 49 percent from the floor in Game 1 and 51 percent in Game 2. Over both games combined they’ve hit 19-for-44 from three-point range.
*The top players for Cleveland are playing well. LeBron James is already playing at his usual high level—32 points/6 rebounds/13 assists in Game 1, followed by 25/10/7 in Game 2. He’s also getting his points with efficiency, shooting 23-for-40 from the floor for the series.
Kyrie Irving was a little erratic in Game 1, but bounced back with 37 points on 14-for-24 shooting in the second game. Kevin Love, after a shaky opener, posted a 27/11 line in Game 2. Tristan Thompson has, as per usual, been a force on the boards, with double-digit rebounds in each game.
It’s not that nobody else could play better—certainly J.R. Smith could have a game where he hits five three-pointers for example—but there is no one else you simply assume will step up their game after a wakeup call.
*Cleveland is unable to do anything against Paul George defensively. The Pacer star has gone for 29 and 32 points in the first two games and has 10 of his 18 three-point attempts. The good news for the Cavs is that beyond Lance Stephenson off the bench, no other Indiana player has played well in both games.
The market has certainly taken notice. The number for Thursday night’s Game 3 in Indiana was posted at Cleveland (-3.5) and already been bet down to (-2). NBA bettors must decide if the Cavs will now provide value or if their flaws are going to be too much to overcome on the road.
I have to reserve my final judgment on that question for clients. Be assured I put in diligent study to properly assess each and every team in the playoffs and to be fluid in my adjustments. I invite you to enroll in my NBA Playoffs Program. With the action just beginning, we can look forward to night-in, night-out moneymaking opportunities. As a further incentive, this program includes bonus baseball selections—with the season a little more than two weeks old, I’m already (+124) betting units. So get on board and be a part of it with me.