The Cleveland Cavaliers are gearing up for the playoffs, where the team will be the fourth seed. The Cavs seem to be hitting their stride in their best health all season. Furthermore, the team continues to improve their chemistry together as the effects of their mid-season acquisitions kick in.
The Cavaliers will face the fifth seed Indiana Pacers with home-court advantage in the first round. Let’s take a look at the matchup and how we predict it will play out.
The Cavaliers, at least on paper, should have a clear advantage over the Pacers. First and foremost, the Pacers will have no answer for small forward LeBron James.
James continually defies his age, posting one of his best statistical seasons of his career. Most notably, James had 18 triple-doubles this year, the most of his career. Furthermore, James will play all 82 games for the first time in his career.
While I am not surprised by James’ ability to get triple doubles as his game has evolved, it was definitely surprising to learn that he has never played all 82 games before.
This will be the second consecutive season in which the Cavaliers will play the Pacers in the playoffs. While things are certainly different this time around, the Cavaliers are without superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, and Indiana is without a star of their own in small forward Paul George.
Shooting guard Victor Oladipo has emerged as a legitimate star for the Pacers this year and the main piece that will be leading the team in the future.
For Cleveland, other than James, center Kevin Love will be looking to make a big impact. As his game continues to develop into an effective sidekick for James, teams will continue to struggle defending him. Love’s versatility alone presents a challenge for opposing teams, and he guarantees a double-double on a nightly basis.
On Indiana’s side, the emergence of small forward Bojan Bogdanovic has been critical for a presence in the paint. Big men have given Cleveland trouble all season with the struggles of Love and center Tristan Thompson. Bogdanovic should have plenty of room to roam and be productive down low.
This will be an exciting first round matchup, as both teams come in looking different but still as successful as last season to find themselves in the playoffs another year. The Cavs, a heavy favorite to move onto the second round, begin another playoff campaign with championship aspirations.
We will have to wait it see if LeBron James and company can make some magic one more time.