We are backing the Pacers to cover the first half chalk at the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday, and are laying the longball accordingly. Inline with our thinking, ESPN's Basketball Power Index makes Indy about eight points better than the bottom of the barrel Cavaliers on a neutral court. But the Cavs' plan to fill Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse to 14% capacity Wednesday, so perhaps a modest home court adjustment is warranted. Still though, the implied edge for the road team hints that Indy can handle the first half spread.
Also supporting the Pacers for the first half cover, we note that bad teams taking points after successful runs have proven solid fades historically.
Fading teams that didn't make an appearance in the prior playoffs and are taking points after rattling off four straight wins has delivered a14% ROI since 2004, with only four losing seasons over this span. This system is 3-1 ATS so far this year.
Bottom line: The Cavs surprised us with the win and cover at the Rockets a couple of days ago, improving their streak to four straight. The added bit of outperformance makes a coming regression more likely, in our thinking. Before the season opened, FiveThirtyEight estimated Cleveland would finish with a 23-49 record, for a 32% win rate. Similarly, ESPN's Basketball Power Index implies a 24-48 record for the Cavs when the dust ultimately settles on the 2021-22 season (BTW, the the probability of such a team amassing four straight wins is 33% ^ 4 ≈ 1%). At 14-21 presently, the math implies Cleveland loses roughly three out of every four of their games over the remainder of the season. Coming off a fourth consecutive underdog win strikes us as a solid sell-high opportunity.