Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – NBA, March 3, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| March 3, 2021 8:42 am PDT

These two Central Division teams are relatively closely matched this season as only one win separates them. They both sit outside the Eastern Conference’s playoff positions, but a win or two will put them firmly in the frame.

This is a fixture that the home team on the day has immensely enjoyed as it’s been won by them on six of the previous seven occasions. The one team to win on the road was the Pacers, so there is a glimmer of hope for them tonight.

Over the previous ten head-to-head meetings, the Cavaliers have struggled to keep pace with the Pacers as Indiana has averaged nine points more per game.

Let’s look at the betting trends for each team, and then I will provide my Pacers vs. Cavaliers betting prediction.

Pacers vs. Cavaliers Odds

Pacers -6-110
Cavaliers +6-110
Pacers To Win-240
Cavaliers To Win+210
Over 216.5 Points-110
Under 216.5 Points-110

The spread looks a couple of points bigger than I expected. The last time they met in December of last year, the Pacers gave the Cavaliers an eight-point lead, and they managed to cover it that night. However, the Pacers aren’t the same team they were then, so they may find it slightly harder to cover the smaller handicap. Although the total points figure is relatively low, it does look about right.

Pacers Analysis

Both teams come into this game with exactly the opposite form figures over the previous five matches. The Pacers are on a run of four straight defeats for the second time this season. The last time it happened, they went on to win the next game, so they will be hoping for much the same tonight. They have struggled of late as their three wins in their previous 12 games all came against teams towards the bottom of their Conferences.

Although they have a split record of eight wins and eight defeats on the road, it is the third-best away record in the Eastern Conference. I feel this says more about the Conference rather than the Pacers. They are on a run of three straight defeats on the road. Indiana hasn’t lost four games in a row on the road this season. The last time they lost three on the trot, they won the next three matches.

Here are the latest betting trends for Indiana:

  • They have only won one of their previous six games against the spread.
  • Six of their last seven matches have gone over the betting total.
  • All of their previous five games on the road have gone over the points total.
  • Only one of their last five visits to Cleveland has failed to go over the betting total.
  • The Pacers have lost eight of their previous ten matches against the spread when facing Eastern Conference opposition.
  • Indiana is 8-3 in their last 11 games against teams from their Central Division.

The most prominent information here is that the trends suggest this could be a higher scoring game than anticipated.

The Pacers have an average offense that has shot well for most of this season to date. However, they have been let down by their rebounding game miserably.

Their defense is ranked slightly lower than their attack. They like to defend deep, and they close the space around the basket, which means they don’t give up many easy points. It also means that they are relatively good at defending against teams that like to drive to the basket. It’s tough for their opponents to dribble to the basket with the number of blocks the Pacers produce each game.

Center Miles Turner has been a roadblock for the Pacers this season, and he has shown great maturity and consistency for a relatively young man. While many would highlight that he doesn’t contribute much by way of scoring, his defensive work makes him stand out from the crowd. His figures have stayed consistent over the past four years, which perhaps proves he has an old head on young shoulders.

T. J. McConnell has also been an integral part of their defense this season, making the second-highest average number of steals per game in the league. He has also added more assists to his game this season which has helped him see more game time.

The Pacers will be without Warren and LeVert tonight, who are both out with long-term injuries. However, they are hopeful that Lamb will recover in time to feature following a knee problem.

Cavaliers Analysis

The Cavaliers are enjoying their best run of the season, having won their last four games in a row. They have had a couple of big wins over the Rockets and showed true grit in wins over the Hawks and the Conference leaders, the 76ers. They matched up well to Philadelphia, and the Cavaliers rebounded superbly throughout the game. Although they blew a halftime lead, they picked themselves up to rally and win the match in overtime.

This is despite them resting their star Center Andre Drummond who they are hoping to trade before the transfer deadline.

Much like their opponent’s record on the road, Cleveland also has a split record of 9-9 from their 18 home fixtures. They have won their previous two games at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, and they will be hoping threes a charm tonight.

Here are the latest betting trends for Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers have won four of their last five games against the spread.
  • Six of their previous seven matches have gone under the betting total.
  • Only one of their previous five games against the Pacers has failed to go under the points total.
  • All of their last six home matches have gone under the betting total.
  • Cleveland is 4-13 against the spread in their last 17 matches.
  • They have only won one of their previous five games against the spread when taking on teams in the Central Division.
  • The Cavaliers have lost eight of their last 11 games played in March.
  • Cleveland has won four of the last five games that they entered as underdogs.

The stats contradict those of the Pacers and predict a low-scoring game tonight. They also show that despite the Cavaliers struggling this season, their form has certainly picked up as of late, and that is despite the adversity of being the outsiders for most of their games.

The Cavaliers have the worst attack in the NBA, averaging a mere 104 points per game. However, they will be encouraged by the fact that they should win the rebounding stakes against the Pacers, especially when you look at the fantastic performance they put up against the 76ers.

Their offense has been slightly better at home, averaging three more points per game which could make all the difference in a game that could be closely contested. Speaking of three-pointers, they haven’t been too good at making them this season. They have been terrible and have made one of the lowest tallies in the league this season.

They haven’t done any better from closer either as they have the second-lowest success rate from the free-throw line in the NBA and therefore shooting is a real problem for them right now.

The Cavs haven’t used the ball well, which has probably contributed to their low-scoring stats this season. They seem to run out of ideas very quickly, which makes them panic as the shot clock runs down, resulting in a high number of turnovers and missed shots.

Cleveland has defended well for most of the season, despite not particularly marking their opponents well.

They have a tricky defense that makes a high number of steals per game. This is an area of the game that will be interesting as they have a slight edge over the Pacers in this department. With them having the advantage in rebounding also it could mean that the Cavaliers see a lot more of the ball tonight than they perhaps usually would.

The Cavaliers have quite a few absentees tonight as Love, Drummond, and Nance Junior will all miss out. There are also doubts over Dellavedova and Prince, who both face late fitness tests.

Pacers vs. Cavaliers Pick

  • Cavaliers +6

The Cavaliers now appear to have adjusted to life without star player Andre Drummond despite the Center still being a registered Cleveland player. I don’t believe the Cavaliers are a great team, but I can’t ignore that they come into this game in excellent form, and the Pacers are struggling over the last few weeks. The Cavs also match up pretty well against Indiana, which is something they haven’t been able to say much this season.

I think both teams will struggle to make the playoffs this season unless something drastically changes. However, I am going to take the inform Cavaliers to win this one with the handicap?



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