San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers Free NBA Picks, Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/3/2014
I really can't figure the Cleveland Cavaliers out. On pure talent alone, this team should be in the Eastern Conference playoffs and not ninth. The only thing keeping the Cavs alive is that the No. 8 Hawks are terrible. I thought the Cavs had figured things out when they won a season-high six straight games from Feb. 7-19. Then, in typical Cavs fashion, they lost their next three, including very winnable ones at home against Washington and Toronto.
OK, I was ready to give up on Cleveland. Naturally the Cavs then went to Oklahoma City next Wednesday and upset the Thunder 114-104. Nice. Then in a potential letdown game Friday at home against Utah, the Cavaliers won by 20. Here we go, playoffs! Yeah, not so much. Cleveland lost 110-96 in Memphis on Saturday. At least the Cavs were 8-6 in February, only their second winning month in the past four seasons. The only other winning month for them in that stretch was last February when they went 7-5. They followed it with a 2-12 March that led to Byron Scott's dismissal.
Now comes a very difficult stretch of the schedule. After hosting San Antonio on Tuesday, the Cavs visit Charlotte, host the Knicks (OK that's easy), visit Phoenix, Golden State and the Clippers before hosting Miami, Oklahoma City and Houston. Only 12 games are on the Cleveland schedule after that, so if the Cavs go something like 3-6 over the next nine games then it's probably time to look toward next year. Unless the Hawks go 0-9, that is.
San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Story Lines
Kyrie Irving is certainly doing his part lately for Cleveland. He had 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds against the Jazz for his first career triple-double. It was the 50th triple-double in Cavs history and first since March 16, 2010. The last 34 Cavaliers triple-doubles were by some guy named LeBron. Irving is averaging 24.0 points, 7.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in the past five. He might wear down, however, as Irving is playing 41.2 minutes a night over that stretch. One guy who isn't doing his part is Luol Deng. He's been OK but not the guy he was in Chicago. Deng had just 11 points against Memphis on 5-for-14 shooting. He has topped 17 points just twice in the past 10 games. He's only shooting 37.2 percent from the field in that stretch. Somehow the Bulls are actually better without Deng -- he might regret turning down Chicago's three-year, $30 million offer before the Bulls traded him.
Cleveland has been without three key players in Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles. Varejao hasn't played since Feb. 9, but there's an outside chance he could return for this one. Ditto for Waiters, who hasn't played since Feb. 19. Miles won't be back for this one and is at least a week away.
The Spurs are finally whole again after Tony Parker returned in Sunday's 112-106 home victory over Dallas, San Antonio's third straight win and sixth in the past seven. That was a possible first-round West playoff preview. Parker had missed the previous six games (yet played in the All-Star Game) to rest a variety of injuries. San Antonio was 5-1 without him. He had 22 points (10-of-15 from the field) and seven assists vs. the Mavs. Fellow starter Kawhi Leonard returned last Wednesday after missing 14 games due to a broken finger. San Antonio was hoping to add Danny Granger after he was bought out by the 76ers, but Granger chose the Clippers.
When the Cavaliers visited San Antonio on Nov. 23, it wasn't pretty as the Spurs romped 126-96, easily covering the 13-point spread and obliterating the 192 total. San Antonio had 16 3-pointers (on 24 attempts) in what was its 10th straight win at the time. All of San Antonio's 13 players scored at least six points. No Spurs starter played more than 21 minutes. Tim Duncan was in there for only 16 and was plus-32.
San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
According to odds from BetOnline, the Spurs opened as 6.5-point favorites with a total of 203. San Antonio is 28-31 against the spread (17-13 on the road) and 35-23-1 "over/under" (18-12 on road). The Cavaliers are 28-33 ATS (16-14 at home) and 27-34 O/U (10-20 at home). The Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their past five after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game. Cleveland is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 against teams with a winning record. It is 1-5 ATS in its past six after a loss of at least 10 points. The over is 6-1 in San Antonio's past seven against teams with a losing record. The over is 7-1 in Cleveland's past eight against teams with a winning record. The Spurs are 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings.
San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers Free NBA Picks and Betting Predictions
If the Cavaliers were going to be at full strength here, I'd definitely lean their way for a straight up upset. This sets up as a major trap game for San Antonio as it's a weird one-game road trip after three straight at home and then two more there following. I also could see the Spurs perhaps looking ahead to Thursday night's big showdown with Miami. I don't think the Cavs have enough healthy bodies to win, but I do like them to cover. Take the over.
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