INDIANA PACERS (50-36) at CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (52-34)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Cleveland -6.5, Total: 205
LeBron looks to continue carrying the Cavaliers in a tightly contested series against the Pacers.LeBron James simply doesn't lose in the first round of the playoffs. That was the narrative entering this year's postseason, as the superstar Cleveland forward had won a record 21 consecutive first-round games entering this year's opening round. That narrative has been upended, as the Cavaliers are locked at two games apiece with the Indiana Pacers after Cleveland stole a 104-100 win in Indianapolis on Sunday. The Cavs led by double-digits at halftime, but they needed a late 10-2 run to come back in the game's final minutes and secure a victory to prevent themselves from falling into a 3-1 series hole. Over the last five seasons, underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points averaging at least 99 PPG on the season (IND) are 50-86 ATS against opponents that have led each of their last two games by double-digits at the half (CLE). But over the last five seasons, teams coming off a home loss against a division rival (IND) are 55-26 ATS against opponents coming off a win against a division rival.
Indiana's leading scorer in Game 4 was not newly minted star SG Victor Oladipo, but rather the other half of the Pacers' haul from last summer's Paul George trade: second-year C Domantas Sabonis. In 25 minutes off the bench, Sabonis put in 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting and added six rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Oladipo scored only 17 points on dismal 5-of-20 shooting, two nights after he went only 5-of-15 from the floor in Game 3. He had shot over 50% from the floor in the series' first two games, and the Pacers will be hoping he finds his stroke no that he'll be headed back to Cleveland. C Myles Turner played only 23 minutes due to foul trouble—which is partly why Sabonis got so much run—but played well in his time on the floor, scoring 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. It's clear that Indiana has an advantage on the interior, and that's an area they'll look to exploit in what's now set up as a best-of-three series. SF Bojan Bogdanovic was the hero of Game 3 with 30 points in Indy's comeback win, but he cooled off significantly on Sunday with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. PG Darren Collison and PF Thaddeus Young rounded out the starting lineup with 12 points each in Game 4, which is more or less what they've each averaged for the season. Young shined on the boards with 16 rebounds, and Collison dished out eight assists. SG Lance Stephenson notched 11 points and six assists off the bench, but far more notable were his antics that drew a technical out of James.
After an embarrassing loss in Game 3, it was a safe bet that LeBron was going to go off in Game 4, and go off he did. James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in 46 intense minutes. He has played at least 40 minutes in each game of this series. Of course, he never seems to fatigue, and he was at his best on Sunday in the final minutes, combining with SG Kyle Korver for all 10 points in Cleveland's late 10-2 run. Yes, Kyle Korver—needless to say it's something of a down year for LeBron in terms of the talent of his supporting cast, and he'll take help wherever he can get it. The 37-year-old got hot at the right time to finish with 18 points, and Cleveland would have been doomed without him. PF Kevin Love was hot garbage, scoring five points on 2-of-10 shooting and only slightly redeeming himself with 11 rebounds. He's yet to score 20 points in a game in this series, hardly living up to the role of primary LeBron sidekick that he's been slotted into since Kyrie Irving left. PG Jose Calderon and SG JR Smith rounded out the starting lineup, meaning that the Cavs were rolling with guys who have been around for a bit, despite their massive midseason shakeup. Deadline acquisitions SF Rodney Hood and PF Larry Nance Jr. combined for less than 30 minutes, although PG Jordan Clarkson had 12 points in 22 minutes. PG George Hill would normally be starting, but he sat with back spasms. He is yet to make much of an impact in this series.