Five Things Bettors Should Know for Cavaliers-Pacers Game 7

Five Things Bettors Should Know for Cavaliers-Pacers Game 7 article feature image

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James.

Oohh baby, now this is a Game 7 I can get behind. Sure, a Pacers upset would be crazy in its own right, but this game could have loads of implications that are much bigger. Depending on how LeBron James and the Cavs do, the entire landscape of the league could be altered going forward.

I’m also very interested to see what bettors think. In the early going, the Pacers are getting a ton of spread bets at +5.5. Almost nobody has faith in the Cavs, but I think deep down we all know the King is going to have one hell of a game, win or lose. — Mark Gallant



1 p.m. ET

Will the Real Cavs Offense Please Stand Up?

By Matt Moore

Game 7s from a traditional analysis standpoint are pretty simple. At this point in the series, the adjustments are just about done. You’ve figured out everything you’re going to figure out. This one might be a bit different because of the wild swings with Cavaliers players. If Ty Lue benches Jeff Green entirely, that could very well swing the series. Green is a -41 raw in 124 minutes. If Kevin Love is a plus and not a minus, that swings things. If Kyle Korver plays more, that swings things. You get the picture.

But, in reality, this is the best way to think about it: Home teams in Game 7s since 2000-2001 have shot 46% from the field and 37% from 3-point range. Road teams have shot under 42% from the field and just 33% from deep.

The Cavs defense — you know, the one we all saw as a disaster in the regular season — showed up in Game 6. They posted a 131 Defensive Rating and were completely lost.

The third quarter was where the wheels came off. In this clip, LeBron James just flat out misses his mark trying to take a charge and Turner goes by him.


In this next clip, James corrects… and Turner drops it off to Thaddeus Young in the dunker spot.


There were mental mistakes, like Jeff Green complaining for a call, which allowed a 5-on-4. James had to guard the big diving to the rim, and Darren Collison got open for a transition 3:


And Tristan Thompson, who some Cavs fans thought would be a savior in this series, just gets destroyed here. He messes up by going too far to his right when Jordan Clarkson is coming for the trap (which has worked on Victor Oladipo all year), then overcorrects when Oladipo gets the edge on him.


J.R. Smith has been the Cavs’ best defensive player in this series, and he had a rough night. In this clip, Oladipo just flat out blew by him to dunk on LeBron.


So much of it was just the Pacers pushing the pace. Here are the Pacers’ fast-break points by game in this series:

Game 1: 18
Game 2: 15
Game 3: 16
Game 4: 7
Game 5: 14
Game 6: 35

But still, if the real Cavs defense showed up, and the real Pacers offense finally showed up in Game 6, there’s reason to believe that, at home, in an elimination game, the real Cavs offense will appear.

The Cavaliers were the eighth-best team at unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers in the regular season, per Synergy Sports, posting a 60% effective field goal percentage on such shots. In this series, they’re at a 52% effective field goal mark. That likely adjusts back in Game 7, and even if their poor defense continues that’s likely enough to lift them. The question, of course, is whether it will create enough variance to separate for the 5.5-point spread, and whether the Cavs find a way to simply never show up offensively in a first-round series.

The Pacers Should Do Exactly What Their Name Implies

By Bryan Mears

Game 6 couldn’t have gone much better for the Pacers. They scored at a rate of 136.0 points per 100 possessions, posted a 65.7% effective field goal rate, and turned it over on just 7.9% of their possessions. They didn’t have a particularly efficient shot profile during the regular season this year, ranking 27th in frequency of shots from the 3-point line and 24th in free throw rate. In Game 6, neither of those flaws particularly mattered. They shot 69.7% at the rim and a stupid 51.7% from behind the arc. When you’re scorching like that, shot profiles aren’t super important.

Of course, they’ll have to prove it in Cleveland today. They have ranked fourth in road net rating in the playoffs (+2.9), although they’ve mostly dominated in Indiana (+9.4) in this series. Their offense has really dipped on the road: They’ve scored 110.3 points per 100 possessions in Indianapolis but just 103.1/100 in Cleveland. Things will be tough in that environment, although they’ve been the better team so far in this series. One thing that could help them is pushing the pace. In Game 6 they added 19.9 points/100 in transition (99th percentile of all games this year), including 7.1/100 off steals and 12.8/100 off live rebounds. If this is a half court battle, LeBron James going 48 minutes is hard to beat. If they catch an undisciplined Cavs team playing a way they don’t want to, they could steal the series.

Big Losses Don’t Mean Much (to the Spread)

By John Ewing

Cleveland lost Game 6 by 34 points. Since 2005, teams that lost by 30 or more points have gone 18-14 ATS in their next game. Favorite teams in that spot have gone 5-0 ATS.

LeBron Usually Covers in Game 7

By Evan Abrams

LeBron James has played in six Game 7s entering Sunday — three with the Cavaliers (1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS) and three with the Heat (3-0 SU and ATS). Game 7 against the Pacers will be LeBron’s first one with the Cavaliers as a favorite (listed as favorite in all three Heat games) and his first with the Cavs in Cleveland. In LeBron’s career, he has played 22 games as a home favorite in Game 5 or later in an Eastern Conference series: He is 18-4 SU and exactly 11-11 ATS. – Evan Abrams

Target the First-Half Under

By Evan Abrams

Since 2005, 17 Game 7s have been played earlier than 7 p.m. ET in the NBA. Of those 17 games, the first-half under is 11-4-2, going under the total by 5.1 points per half.

Pictured above: LeBron James