NBA Picks: Cleveland Cavaliers at Los Angeles Clippers
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The Los Angeles Clippers have caught fire at the right time. Doc Rivers’ squad has won its past 10 contests and moved to within three games of San Antonio for the best record in the West (trailing the OKC Thunder by two games for the No. 2 seed).
The Clippers will host the 26-40 Cleveland Cavaliers in a matchup that is just as crucial for the struggling Cavs. Though Cleveland’s winning percentage is just .394, the Cavs are still only four games out of the last playoff spot in the East. NBA oddsmakers aren’t giving Kyrie Irving and the Cavs much of a chance though, with the pro basketball odds set 11.5 points in favor of the Clippers.
The biggest difference for the Clippers this season has been a much improved defense. Rivers has got the most out of center DeAndre Jordan who has taken to the task by leading the league in rebounding (14 per game) and blocking 2.4 shots per game. The Clippers still are middle of the pack in points allowed (14th), but have the NBA’s highest scoring offense.
Blake Griffin has made a number of improvements to his game to silence his detractors, including a better jump shot and more refined moves both back to the basket and facing up. It’s enabled the high flying power forward to increase his scoring average to 24.4 points per game. The Clippers offense doesn’t begin and end with Griffin, though. Including newly acquired Glen Davis, the Clippers have seven players averaging 10 points per game or better. Davis adds increased depth on the frontline, and the Clips have great depth at all positions.
The same can’t be said of the struggling Cavs. Kyrie Irving has stagnated in Cleveland and grown frustrated, and Luol Deng’s production has dipped significantly since leaving Chicago. The Cavs gambled on Andrew Bynum and were treated to a half-season of immaturity and antics, before he decided he’d play basketball again now a member of the Pacers.
Second-year guard Dion Waiters has not become a reliable second option and is horribly inefficient, with a PER of just 13.3 despite being the Cavs third-leading scorer. Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett are both close to being classified as busts, and the Cavs lack direction as a franchise.
That’s just a small part of why this team is a double-digit underdog despite being in the playoff hunt. This is historically one of the most imbalanced years between the East and West Conferences, so making the playoffs doesn’t constitute much of a success and it may even set the team back by missing out on a coveted lottery pick in the loaded 2014 NBA draft.
CLE Trends: UNDER 7-0 in last 7 after scoring 100 points or more in previous game; UNDER 5-0 in last 5 on 1 days rest; 8-1 ATS in last 9 following SU win.
LAC Trends: UNDER 3-0-1 in last 4 overall; 5-0-1 ATS in last 6 vs teams with winning percentage below .400; UNDER 3-0-1 in last 4 following SU win.
Head-to-head: Cavs 6-1 ATS in last 7 meetings; UNDER 4-1 in last 5 meetings.