The Cleveland Cavaliers still sit 2.5 games ahead of No. 2 Boston Celtics, but the Cavs will be without Kevin Love for tonight’s game. NBA oddsmakers are still favoring LeBron James and company by 6.5 points, and that will be a tough cover against a Minnesota Timberwolves team which has won 7 of its past 10 SU.
The Wolves are in hot pursuit of the (wide-open) No. 8 seed in the West, trailing the Denver Nuggets by 2.5 games with plenty of games left in this season.
Cleveland has had its struggles lately, too. The Cavaliers have lost six of its past 10 games and most recently fell to the lowly Dallas Mavericks 104-97. James has been calling for a “****ing playmaker” off the bench for weeks, and the call appears to have been answered by one Mario Chalmers. Chalmers and James have history to be sure as former teammates in Miami, and the Cavaliers may have added another key bench cog at the cost of nothing.
James, for his part, has continued to play good ball, but the Cavaliers are making it abundantly clear just how important it is to keep Kevin Love healthy. Richard Jefferson has been doing his best with his ancient body, but even an efficient 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting does nothing to compensate for Love’s rebounding and court-stretching.
Jefferson also did knock down all three of his triples, but the threat of him on the court just is not the same and Cleveland still is trying to get blood from an orange with backup forward Channing Frye. Frye had 13 points and seven boards in just 19 minutes of play, and his role as a reserve is crucial to the Cavs given the lack of other premier scoring and shooting options off their bench.
For a team sitting in command of the East, there really could not be more problems to address. Cleveland is still the prohibitive favorites in the East, but if Chalmers’ deal is finalized that will go a long way toward shoring up the shoddy bench play from inexperienced players like Jordan McRae and DeAndre Liggins. Cleveland is a strong team and top-heavy, but its depth remains questionable.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, seem to be rounding into form, and perhaps it should be no surprise that a team housing two recent No. 1 overall picks in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns finally start playing good basketball. Tom Thibodeau has been patient enough, but the Wolves are definitely in need of some veteran leadership, particularly on the defenisve end.
Minnesota scores 104 points per game, but it surrenders just as many (roughly), the cause of it losing so many close games and maintaining such a mediocre record at this point.
But with Minnesota starting to roll, this game has plenty of upset potential and at the minimum we like Minnesota to cover the spread against the struggling Cavs.
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