Cavaliers vs. Heat: Sneaky Good Spot to Bet on Points

Kenny Ducey of Action Network previews Wednesday's NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, including a betting prediction.

Cavaliers vs. Heat Odds

Cavaliers Odds -2
Heat Odds +2
Over/Under 215
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Cavaliers are hanging onto the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference for dear life and have another opportunity to increase their lead over the the fifth-place Knicks on Wednesday night.

Their opponent will be none other than the Heat, who are also in desperate need of a win as they try to avoid the play-in tournament. Like Cleveland, the Heat come into this one on a two-game winning streak.

Without further ado, let’s break this one down in our Cavaliers vs. Heat preview and prediction.

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Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs are beginning to find their rhythm again. They’ve won three out of four, covering in their loss to Boston but not in their win on Monday. They’d come crashing back to Earth following a seven-game winning streak, but it appears normal service has resumed.

The biggest thing here is that we’ve seen the return of that revered Cleveland defense. This team had really dropped off on that end in January, ranking 11th with a 112.5 efficiency rating, but it posted a 109.5 in February, identical to its league-best mark for the entire year.

Over the last five games, the strength of the Cavs defense has remained inside. Cleveland is seventh with a 60.3% defended field goal percentage inside of six feet and has allowed just 52% shooting on guarded two-point looks in general. On the flip side, the Cavs have been one of the worst in the NBA over this time with a 37% mark against contested three-point looks.

In some good news, Donovan Mitchell is red-hot. He’s gone for 35 points in three of his last four games and has hit the 30-point mark in six of his last 10 games. Why is this significant? Well, the last time these two teams played Mitchell had just 16 points on 3-of-13 shooting from three. That came in the middle of a huge scoring slump for the point guard, which is clearly a thing of the past.

Miami Heat

The Heat are also beginning to rebuild their confidence with two straight wins over the Hawks. This on the heels of a losing stretch which saw them lose six times in seven tries.

They’re currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games back of the Nets for the final playoff spot. It once looked like a near-certainty that this team would avoid the play-in, but with the Nets and Knicks playing good basketball, they are in danger of winding up on the outside looking in.

Unlike Cleveland, this team’s defense has not reverted back to its old ways. The Heat, ranked fifth in defensive efficiency for the season, have allowed 121 points per 100 possessions over the last five games, good for third-worst in the NBA.

While Miami’s been efficient on offense in the last five games, one thing it still hasn’t done well is score inside the arc. It has hit just 52.2% of its two-point looks, which ranks sixth-worst in that period of time. For the season, Miami is at 53%, also sitting in sixth.

Cavaliers-Heat Pick

I think this is a sneaky good spot to bet on points. While a game between Miami and Cleveland — two teams which play disciplined defense — seems like a low-scoring affair, there’s something to be said for how well the Heat have shot the three lately, and how badly the Cavs have defended it.

While neither side plays with a ton of pace, the number here is low enough where the over warrants consideration. There were just 197 points between the two sides when they met in January, but that was with a horrific shooting performance from Mitchell. Now that he’s out of his funk and Miami’s totally lost it on defense, we should see a back-and-forth affair.

I’d play this one up to 217.

Pick: Over 215 (-110); Play to 217

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