76ers vs. Cavaliers: Cleveland Will Protect Home Court

Kenny Ducey breaks down the NBA matchup on March 15 between the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers and shares his betting preview.

76ers vs. Cavaliers Odds

76ers Odds -2.5
Cavaliers Odds +2.5
Over/Under 222
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

We’re coming down the home stretch of the regular season, and at this point it’s all about playoff positioning for the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 76ers still have an outside shot at the first seed in the East, sitting four games back of the Bucks, but realistically they are aiming for the second spot, which is just a game out of reach. The Cavs are three games behind the Sixers in fourth place and just want to make sure they keep a healthy distance between themselves and the surging Knicks in fifth.

Both teams are playing great ball at the moment, which should make for a fun matchup. Let’s get into some 76ers vs. Cavaliers betting predictions and picks.

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76ers Surging

The Sixers are really on some kind of run right now. They’ve won 11 of 14 games dating back to February 10th and have covered in three of their last five. During that time, they own the league’s second-best offense, pouring in 122.9 points per 100 possessions.

That’s all well and good, but let’s throw some cold water on this team for a second. Defensively, they’re 18th over that 14-game stretch, and it should be noted that a lot of their recent success has come against poor competition. Since February 3, they’ve played a playoff team 10 times and have gone 6-4 straight up in those games. They also managed to lose to the Mavericks in there as well.

The 76ers enter on a five-game wining streak, and while the streak started with a win over the Bucks, it’s continued against the Pacers, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Wizards.

This will represent a tall task for the Sixers. The good news is that they beat the Cavaliers the last time they faced them, exactly one month ago. The bad news is that game was at home, where the Sixers are other-worldly.

One potential story to watch here is the health of Jalen McDaniels, who has been providing the Sixers with some great defense off the bench. He’s listed as questionable, and if he were to miss this one, it’d be his first absence with his new team.

Cavaliers Dominant at Home

The season series between Cleveland and Philly has seemingly been dictated by the venue. The Cavaliers smoked the Sixers early in the season when they had the pleasure of welcoming them to Cleveland, and when things went back to Philly months later, it was a different story.

The Cavaliers are a sparkling 28-7 at home this season and have won their only game as home underdogs. They’ve gone 22-12-1 against the spread in Cleveland as well. At home, they’ve got a shiny +9.3 Net Rating driven by an incredible 106.7 Defensive Rating.

That sure is the name of the game for the Cavaliers, and it will be another fascinating watch when this strong unit goes up against one of the best offenses in basketball. A critical part of this defense is its ability to defend inside of six feet, where it has allowed just 57.1% shooting on guarded looks. Even in defeat last time out, the Cavaliers limited Joel Embiid to 9-of-21 shooting, which has to be considered a win given his 53.9% field goal percentage for the season.

The critical news to wait on here will be the status of Donovan Mitchell. He missed the front-end of this back-to-back on Tuesday night and obviously changes the dynamic of this one quite a bit. The issue was a sprained finger, which he’s been playing through, so it’s entirely possible he plays here. Jarrett Allen also missed Tuesday’s game with an eye contusion, so keep tabs on his status.

76ers-Cavaliers Pick

Cleveland is dealing with two minor injuries to a couple of its best players, and while I’m going to go ahead and assume they’ll play, there are no guarantees. Should one or both miss this one, this analysis is essentially out the window. The Cavaliers’ interior defense is going to have a much tougher time on Embiid without Allen, and this offense is nothing without Mitchell.

It’s undeniable how strong the Cavaliers are at home, and given the last matchup between these two, I don’t think the Sixers offense is going to have nearly as much success as it’s had lately against this strong interior. I also don’t know if Philly is truly playing at a high level given its recent run of opponents.

Given all of that, I’m going to take the points with the home team, but if Mitchell and/or Allen are out, it’s likely abandon ship for me.