Despite being 3-0 against the Pacers, the Cavs have faced a tough test in each win
Coming off an important win against the Toronto Raptors, the Cavs (37-27) will be without their All-Star center Jarrett Allen for an indefinite amount of time. Meanwhile, the Pacers (22-44) are back home after a four-game road trip and have lost four of their last six games since the All-Star break while allowing 118.8 points per game.
HOW TO WATCH
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (37-27) vs. Indiana Pacers (22-44)
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, Indiana
When: 7 pm
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports App, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavaliers -5
Opposing blog: Indy Cornrows
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Isaac Okoro / Lauri Markkanen / Evan Mobley / Ed Davis
Cavs injury report: Rajon Rondo (QUESTIONABLE - toe), Jarrett Allen (OUT - finger), Caris LeVert (OUT - foot), Collin Sexton (OUT - knee)
Expected Pacers starting lineup: Malcolm Brogdon / Tyrese Haliburton / Buddy Hield / Oshae Brissett / Isaiah Jackson
Pacers injury report: Goga Bitadze (GAME TIME DECISION - foot), Lance Stephenson (GAME TIME DECISION - Ankle), Chris Duarte (GAME TIME DECISION - Toe), TJ Warren (OUT - foot), TJ McConnell (OUT - wrist), Myles Turner (OUT - foot), Ricky Rubio (OUT - knee)
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
FIRST HALF DEFENSE: Even though the Cavaliers have won each meeting against the Pacers this season, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t face a challenge while doing so. In each of the last two meetings, the Pacers have been significantly more effective with their shooting, outscoring the Cavs 65-63 in the first half, but the real discrepancy is in the field goal percentage: the Pacers shot 56% from the field while holding the Cavs to 39%. Not to mention, in their last meeting, a 120-113 win, the Pacers outscored the Cavs 47-28 in the first quarter alone. The defense needs to step up in the first half to prevent a large, but necessary, comeback in the second half.
REBOUNDING: Now that we know that Jarrett Allen will be missing for quite some time, the question is: who steps up in his place? While that question won’t be answered by a single player, one person to look for is Ed Davis, who has three starts in Allen’s place on the season so far. The Pacers average 44.9 rebounds per game, a mere 0.1 more than the Cavs. But two of their projected starting bigs average only 8.5 rebounds per game combined. Davis, on the other hand, averages 10.3 rebounds per game in his three starts. That, along with Mobley’s 8.2 rebounds per game, will be necessary to limit the Pacers second-chance points and an offense that features Buddy Hield and Malcolm Brogdon, two normally high-percentage shooters having down years, and Tyrese Haliburton, a 40.3% shooter from deep this season.
THREE POINT SHOOTING: Even though the Pacers have struggled out of the gate post-All Star break, they are averaging nearly 118 points per game in that stretch while shooting close to 37% from deep. The Cavs, on the other hand, have shot 34% during that same stretch and shot only 20% in their last game against the Raptors. If the Pacers keep up that same rate, with the Cavs lack of defense from the last two meetings, it could be another ugly first half, which puts more emphasis on the importance of locking down their shooters and playmakers while preventing extra opportunities for them to score.