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LeBron James has watched as two starters were traded last month and numerous players have gone down with injuries. Through it all, he keeps looking for his teammates, but lately, scoring has taken a priority.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland –8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 207 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland –8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
James is averaging 30.8 points this season, but he's still one of the game's best distributors, sitting in the league's top 10 with a career-high 7.4 assists per game.
He's posted double figures in assists in two of his last four games, but he's also enjoyed one of the best scoring stretches of his career.
With two starters out due to injuries, James has shouldered more of the scoring load in that span, averaging 39.0 points. He had his fifth career 50-point effort in a 119-105 win at New York on Wednesday.
The Pacers - along with the rest of the NBA - have taken notice.
"We've got to focus on LeBron," said Indiana's Danny Granger, who leads his team with 18.4 points per game. "He has been scoring a lot lately so if we can handle him we will get the win."
James has only averaged 26.0 points against Indiana (24-38), a figure brought down by a 17-point performance off the bench as James returned from an injury on Dec. 11. But in the teams' other two meetings, he was at his best, posting a pair of triple-doubles.
"LeBron - what can I say? He's the MVP. He's the MVP this year. I don't care how many games are left or what not," said coach Mike Brown after James' 31-point, 14-rebound, 12-assist performance in a 106-97 win against the Pacers on Feb. 20. "This guy is terrific. He just does everything out on the floor."
James had 39 points on Thursday night in Chicago, but the Cavaliers were outscored 34-16 in the third quarter and lost 107-96, snapping a three-game winning streak.
"I'm concerned with the kind of game we're playing where we're giving up 105-plus points," Brown said. "If we expect to be a good team, and get deep into the playoffs, we can't do it that way."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.5 ppg) and Daniel Gibson (11.5 ppg) are both out for Cleveland, and the Pacers will be particularly glad they don't have to deal with Gibson. The second-year guard has hit 7-of-8 3-pointers against Indiana this season, and the Cavaliers are shooting 50.8 percent from beyond the arc as a team in their three meetings.
Indiana also won't see Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes, who contributed in earlier meetings for the Cavs before being traded to Chicago on Feb. 21 in the deal that brought Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to Cleveland.
The Pacers are still fighting for one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, but they haven't been doing much to help their cause lately, dropping eight of their last 11 games.
Indiana has dropped two straight, losing 117-99 at Houston on Wednesday, then falling 108-97 in San Antonio a night later. Those opponents have won a combined 28 games in a row heading into play Friday.
"We've just got to regroup and get on certain things," said forward Mike Dunleavy, who's averaging 24.1 points in his last eight games. "We have 20 games left so if we can win 75 percent of them we have a chance."
Dunleavy isn't the only Pacer who's been playing well offensively of late. Granger is averaging 22.3 points in his last eight contests, and he scored 30 in the team's 106-97 loss to Cleveland on Feb. 20.
The Cavaliers last swept Indiana in 1992-93. They've won six straight home games against the Pacers.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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