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NBA Friday Best Bet
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be a team in total dysfunction right now as they were blown out from start to finish in Toronto last night.

The 133-99 loss was the second straight game Cleveland has lost by 28 or more points, and with the Cavs having the 2nd worst defensive efficiency rating in the entire league, you've got to wonder if this team is actually built for long term success this season.

The back-to-back spot tonight doesn't do them any favors, but this team has too much talent to continue getting worked like they have.

Will this be the night that they start to turn things around for the better? Odds: Cleveland (-2.5); Total set at 221

There is no question that the recent blowout losses have really ate away at LeBron James as he laid into his teammates on national TV last night and saw zero response from them. An undermanned Raptors team – without Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka – ran the Cavs out of that gym from start to finish, with Toronto's bench doing the majority of the damage. It was an embarrassing effort by Cleveland on all fronts and now they've got to go into Indiana to face a team they are already 0-2 SU and ATS against.

Cleveland's league worst ATS mark (12-28-1 ATS) has to have caused many bettors to basically abandon ship with this team on the betting line as they simply have zero interest in playing defense and don't exactly have a roster full of guys that are willing to. But things better change in a hurry because Cleveland hosts Golden State after this Indiana game, and while that would usually be a huge look-ahead spot for a team like this, it's tough to look ahead to a game when you are playing like complete crap at the moment.

The 0-2 SU mark head-to-head should mean that Cleveland will give Indiana their full attention this evening, and with the starters getting plenty of rest the past two games in blowout losses, fatigue shouldn't be an issue.

So while recent play, head-to-head history, and the situational spot all line up in favor of Indiana here, I've got a tough time getting the notion that Cleveland loses again out of my mind. The last thing the Cavs want to happen going into that rematch with Golden State is to be limping in there with three-consecutive losses – especially if tonight's is another blowout – but this is the end of a long road trip and the “eye test” from last night suggests the Cavs are just going through the motions right now.

For a team that's been to three straight NBA Finals and expects to be there again this year, the games during the dog days of January can be tough from a motivational standpoint, but coming off consecutive losses of nearly 30 points should be all the motivation they need.

Indiana is without question a solid team this year and is 2-0 SU and ATS against the Cavs, but they are also a young team that has to be a little concerned about the potential for running into a buzzsaw tonight. We might just see LeBron decide to take this game over right from the start and drag his teammates with him, as a pissed off LeBron is not something I really want to step in front of. It all depends on if we see that from him and the Cavs tonight or if they simply have kept their suitcases closed and are anxious to get back home for the first time in awhile and prepare for that Golden State game.

Whether it's the “square” play or not, I've got to believe that Cleveland is more likely to come out in the “pissed off” mode here in an effort to try and correct what they can right now. There's nothing like a blowout victory of their own that would help restore some confidence going into that Warriors game, and with the Pacers having their own suitcases packed in preparation for their week-long road trip, this may be just the spot that the Cavs puff their chests out and perform.

With the spread being exactly where it was for Cleveland's game last night in Toronto, and me firmly believing that the Raptors are head and shoulders a better team than Indiana, I'm willing to lay that chalk with a Cleveland team everyone everywhere is ripping at the moment.

Odds per -

Best Bet: Cleveland -2.5

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