Cavaliers vs. Nets Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Cavaliers would lose tiebreakers to the Atlanta Hawks and Nets and lose all multi-way ties. There’s a chance the Cavaliers, who were in the sixth spot in the East until the last two weeks, could slide all the way to 10th by the end of the weekend. But a win goes a long way towards them keeping home court for the eighth spot and give them two chances to grab a playoff spot.
The Nets would lose a tiebreaker to the Hornets. Given that they are tied with the Hawks, a loss puts them in real danger of sliding into the ninth or 10th spot, which would mean they need to win two to make the playoffs, both on the road.
Again, this game is massive. Let’s bet this thing.
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Size Is Key for the Cavaliers
Jarrett Allen, Collin Sexton, and Dean Wade are out for the Cavs. Evan Mobley has been upgraded to questionable and is expected to play.
You can’t take much away from the regular-season meetings between these two teams; Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant haven’t both been available for any of the three previous meetings and the Cavaliers were without Evan Mobley in two of the games. They’ll be without Allen in this one, but having Mobley and Lauri Markkanen matters because of their immense size.
If you’re offensively challenged the way the Cavs are, you need to be able to finish shots at the rim by breaking down the Nets’ scheme on the perimeter, forcing help and then having the size to get buckets. Having Mobley and Markkanen helps, even if Allen would be huge in this game.
The Nets run a switch-all scheme defensively unless Andre Drummond is in. Drummond is pivotal here. He’ll play drop coverage in pick-and-roll, giving room, which opens up things for Darius Garland. But the Cavs rank 13th in points per possession against drop coverage, compared to ninth vs. switching.
The Cavaliers need to win the non-Drummond minutes big time, and they’ll need a monster game from Garland to get there.
The Nets allow the 10th-most second-chance points per 100 possessions, but the Cavaliers, despite all their size, don’t really attack the glass — 18th in second chance points offensively — and focus instead on getting back in transition.
Unfortunately, the Cavs will have a hard time keeping pace in half court offense, ranking just 19th.
The Cavs are going to have to hit 3-pointers to keep pace tonight, and they are just 20th in made 3’s per 100 possessions. There’s a path to a win here, but it means making this into a slugfest.
Still, the Cavs are a tough team that has found ways to stay in games all season, and Garland is the kind of guard who can break down the Nets’ defense.
Nets Will Lean Heavily on Superstars
Ben Simmons and Joe Harris are out. Goran Dragic is unlikely to play coming off a bout with COVID. Seth Curry is probable, but he’s admitted he’s not going to be his full self until after the playoffs.
The Nets’ defense has slid to 20th at DunksAndThrees.com, which accounts for schedule. But with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together, the Nets are 9-6 with a +12 Net Rating in those minutes. They win the superstar minutes, but lose the rest.
Brooklyn has struggled against top-10 defensive teams this season. Via CleaningTheGlass.com, they are 20th in spread differential vs. top-10 defenses at -2.4.
The Nets are 20-5 straight up when Durant plays this season as a favorite of more than five points … but they are also just 10-16 ATS and 6-9 overall ATS when both Durant and Irving play.
The blueprint here seems pretty obvious. Brooklyn wins this game, but the Cavs cover the number, which is as high as +9 at some books. The Cavs’ defense and Garland keep them in it, but the Nets’ ability to, you know, have Durant gets them the straight up win.
I don’t want to bet the total in this one. Without Allen, Cleveland is inconsistent defensively. Not bad, just inconsistent. And the Nets can always put up a big number or allow one.
One more play: The Cavs play a the level of the screen defensively. They’ll blitz Irving to get the ball out of his hands. A play on his under for assists is probably worth a look.
Pick: Cavaliers +8.5