Pacers might be only upset hope after lopsided start

Apr 19, 2016 3:03 AM

The first weekend of the NBA playoffs was a playground for those who enjoy lopsided results. Of the eight Game 1s that were played, six were decided by double-digits.

Considering how effective Jeff Teague was for Atlanta, Boston will have serious issues ahead in attempting to contain the Hawks.

Detroit looked like it belonged on the floor with the mighty Cavs, leading 83-76 inside the first minute of the fourth quarter. Still, the Pistons shot 15-for-29 from 3-point range, a percentage they’re unlikely to come close to the rest of the way, while also shooting 12-for-16 from the free-throw line. Andre Drummond went 1-for-2.

If the Cavs had to, they would’ve broken out the Beat-a-Drummond tactic to try and make up ground, but instead turned to a small lineup featuring Kevin Love at center and veteran Richard Jefferson in the mix up front next to LeBron James in order to make a furious comeback. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if we’ve seen the most competitive game Detroit will manage to put together against Cleveland.

Miami surprisingly destroyed Charlotte, which may have been an aberration but probably is indicative of a disparity between the Southeast Division rivals. The average margin of victory posted by the four top seeds in the Western Conference in their series openers was an unbelievable 29.0 points.

The fifth-seeded Trail Blazers came closest, coming within 115-95 of the Clippers at Staples on Sunday night. Portland will probably claim a win over L.A., but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see all four West first-round series end in sweeps.

Where does that leave us to salvage the next 10-14 days of playoff basketball? Quite simply, it means we’ll be rooting on No. 7 seed Indiana in its quest to keep the first round from going the route of all chalk, hopefully coming down to a seventh game we’re unlikely to sniff in any other series matchup.

The Pacers opened the postseason as +250 dogs against second-seeded Toronto despite the fact that the Raptors have only won a single playoff series in their entire franchise history. Entering Monday’s Game 2, Toronto was still favored at -150, but Indiana had come all the way down to +130.

The Pacers opened Saturday’s action north of the border wanting to put some doubts in the Raptors given their playoff history. Indiana accomplished that and then some, escaping Air Canada Centre with a 100-90 Game 1 win that extended Toronto’s playoff losing streak to seven games. Despite wrapping up its third consecutive Atlantic Division title with a franchise-record 56 victories, the Raptors immediately surrendered homecourt advantage and will play the next two in Indianapolis beginning Thursday.

Dwane Casey became the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, but there’s disappointment that his reputation as a great defensive mind has been unable to produce results when it matters most. The Wizards averaged 116 points over the last three contests of the 2015 playoffs in closing out Toronto, while the Pacers reached 100 on Saturday, scoring 30 in the fourth quarter and connecting on 11 3-pointers.

Paul George finished with 33 points and team-highs with six assists and four steals, so Casey is going to have to come up with answers.

As things stand, Indiana is the only playoff underdog with a pulse in what’s destined to be an underwhelming postseason until the herd is thinned out.

Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He's also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Email: [email protected].