NBA on TNT Betting Preview: Golden St. Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

The Splash brothers are the league's highest scoring backcourt, and almost unarguably its best.
The Splash brothers are the league’s highest scoring backcourt, and almost unarguably its best.

Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Time: 8 PM ET
Spread:  CLE -3.5
Total:  216

Betting odds c/o Bovada

The Cleveland Cavaliers are now hitting stride. The Cavs, winners of its past three contests, enter a tough home matchup against the best team in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors. NBA live lines at Bovada showed the Cavaliers as 3.5 point favorites in the affair, with the over/under set at 216. NBA odds explained will show how to bet these NBA lines.

The Cavs still sit 9.5 games behind Atlanta, and are going to have to over come the Atlanta Hawks to even get to a potential matchup with tonight’s opponent in the postseason. Many are expecting the 44-10 Warriors to be there, a team with excellent depth and stingy defense. But it’s tough to count the Cavs out tonight with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving playing so well.

Perhaps best of all for Cleveland, Kevin Love is now starting to show signs of life. The coveted power forward had 24 points, nine boards, three assists and a steal in the 102-93 victory over Detroit on Tuesday (Feb 24) night.

James was three rebounds shy of a triple double, dishing out 11 assists and posting a team high plus-27 while on the court. Irving had an off night shooting the ball hitting just 6 of 16, but the Cavs hit 14 threes, assisted 22 times on 34 field goals, and only turned the ball over 14 times. It was enough to overcome a negative-6 disadvantage on the boards, and getting after the glass against the Warriors tonight will prove vital, too.

Golden State ranks 8th in rebounds per game (44.7) and has a lot of interior strength that creates second shots. The Warriors lead the NBA in points per game, scoring 110.4 per contest, and Stephen Curry is still seemingly getting better. He and Klay Thompson represent the NBA’s most lethal backcourt, and the overwhelming assault could wear Kyrie Irving and put a heavier load on James. Curry and Thompson are averaging 46.1 points between them, while also posting PERs of 28.1 and 21.1, respectively.

The ability is there for this tandem to take over the game and notch an impressive win over an Eastern Conference contender on National TV tonight. Still, this is a Cavs team that has won 17 of its past 19 games SU, and reeled of a 12-game wins streak before falling to the Indiana Pacers on Feb 6.

Cleveland has made a couple good acquisitions too. For all the shot chucking J.R. Smith does, he is a better fit than the discontented Dion Waiters, who was dealt to the OKC Thunder in a three-team deal before the deadline. Timofey Mozgov is a big imposing body and surprisingly good athlete. Kendrick Perkins further fortifies the frontcourt.

Iman Shumpert hasn’t quite panned out as the Cavs hoped he might, but the Cavs have plenty of options off the bench and Shumpert always offers steady defense if nothing else. Even Matthew Dellaedova adds steadiness to the second unit, and the combo guard shoots 40.2 percent from behind the arc this season, while attempting 2.4 per game.

The Cavs have been seeking floor spacing, and Love’s lack of accuracy this season (35.9 percent) has been partly to blame. It’s still a good mark for a power forward, but not the level of shooting he displayed in Minnesota prior to being dealt for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Even though Love is not the indisputable best power forward in the NBA anymore (Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge both have better resumes this year), he is still a better fit than a raw rookie like Wiggins.

Every player has off years, and Love may get back on track still, as he has shown signs of in recent games. Love has shot 45.8 percent from the floor in his last nine games, but is seeing only 31.1 minutes per night over that stretch. With Tristan Thompson being one of the best power forward reserves in the NBA, the Cavs are afforded the luxury of sitting Love when he’s not producing. It seems strange to type these things about a player whose ability to throw a 20/20 game seemed almost taken for granted, but Love is still only 26 years old and there’s enough reasons to believe this could just be an anomalous player whose talents will likely render him an All-Star again in coming seasons.

Expect the Cavs to defend its homecourt tonight, but staving off the brilliance of the Splash Brothers will be tough.  The Cavs need Love to play his best basketball, or the underdog wins this one.

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