NBA Playoffs 2018: Cavaliers vs Pacers series preview for Eastern Conference playoff matchup

The Cavaliers and Pacers will meet each other in the playoffs for the second season in a row. The Pacers went into Wednesday night knowing they would be the 5-seed, but they didn’t know their opponent until the Cavaliers lost to New York.

That loss clinched the rematch.

This an interesting matchup. The Cavaliers have struggled to play consistent basketball all season and this will be the first time a LeBron James-led team finishes as a No. 4 seed since 2008. The Pacers, on the other hand, have been one of the NBA’s biggest surprises. Led by Victor Oladipo, they shocked everybody with their prolific offense and high energy.

Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) vs Indiana Pacers (48-34)

Playoff series schedule

  • Game 1 in Cleveland: TBA
  • Game 2 in Cleveland: TBA
  • Game 3 in Indianapolis: TBA
  • Game 4 in Indianapolis: TBA
  • Game 5 in Cleveland: TBA (if necessary)
  • Game 6 in Indianapolis: TBA (if necessary)
  • Game 7 in Cleveland: TBA (if necessary)

Season series: Pacers lead 3-1

Last season’s playoff results: Cavaliers eliminated by Golden State Warriors in NBA Finals; Pacers swept by Cavaliers in the first round

Injury report:¬†Rodney Hood missed the Cavaliers final two games with an Achilles injury, but he’s expected to return for the playoffs.

Cavs’ projected starting lineup: G George Hill; G Rodney Hood; F LeBron James; F Jeff Green.; C Kevin Love

Pacers’ projected starting lineup: G Darren Collison; G Victor Oladipo; F Bojan Bogdanovic; F Thaddeus Young; C Myles Turner

Cavaliers win if

The Cavaliers win if they flip the switch. They’ve been an up-and-down team all season, but they finished the season with flashes of who they want to be come postseason time. Larry Nance Jr. gives them a lot of versatility off the bench and is a game-changer for them. However, none of this matters if they can’t flip the switch and look like the team everybody expects them to be. That will depend on LeBron James.

Pacers win if

The Pacers can win this series if the Cavaliers’ D doesn’t improve in the playoffs. Cleveland has been one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams this season and ranks 29th in defensive efficiency. The Pacers have a fast-paced offense that can exploit the Cavs in a hurry. They’re an average defensive team, though, so they’ll need to outscore the Cavs to have a chance.

SportsLine projections

According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the Cavaliers have a 50 percent chance to win the conference and an 11.1 percent chance to win it all. Meanwhile, the Pacers have a 2.4 chance of winning the conference and 1.0 percent chance to reach the Finals. SportsLine will have game-by-game gambling advice for every playoff series here.

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