Cavaliers vs. Pelicans: Cleveland's Defense to Slow Down New Orleans

Action Network contributor Tyler Schmidt previews how to bet Cavaliers vs. Pelicans, including updated odds, picks & predictions for Friday's game.

Cavaliers vs. Pelicans Odds

Cavaliers Odds -2
Pelicans Odds +2
Over/Under 223
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone as many teams were extremely active. However, the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans were both rather quiet as the only move between the two teams was the Pelicans acquiring Josh Richardson for Devonte’ Graham and four second round picks.

No moves were needed for the Cavaliers who acquired Donovan Mitchell during the off-season, which has paid major dividends. They have a 35-22 record, which ranks fourth in the Eastern Conference and fifth in the league.

The Pelicans are getting back to winning games and climbing up the Western Conference standings again. This tight spread and relatively low total is going to be a great matchup. Which team can stay hot going into the All-Star Break?

Here’s a breakdown at the Cavaliers vs Pelicans odds and matchup, including my betting prediction.

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Cleveland Cavaliers

Winners of four-straight games, the Cavaliers have been clicking on all cylinders. Not only have they won four games in a row, but their average margin of victory over that span is 21.25 points per game. This is the first end of a back-to-back for the Cavaliers, but there is no sign of anyone sitting this game out.

The Cavaliers won back-to-back road games against the Pacers and Wizards last week, but overall this season they are just 12-16 on the road. Despite the poor road record, they are still 2.5-point favorites. They win games by their defense, which leads the league in Defensive Rating (109.0), entering tonight.

Despite having one of the best backcourts in the league with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers play at the slowest Pace. Funneling the opposing team into the Twin Towers of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen has proven to be a successful strategy in limiting points. They are allowing only 106.4 points per game, which is the most in the league by nearly two points.

The Cavaliers offense is very dependent on ball screens with Garland and Mitchell. They rank inside the top five in ball screen points by the ball handler and the roll man. This a team that is built for the playoffs because they play in the half court. Despite averaging only 111.8 points per game, the Cavaliers shoot the ball at 48.7% as a team, which ranks as the sixth-best in the league.

In his first year with the Cavaliers, Mitchell is leading the team in points averaging a career-high 28.6 points per game. Garland is also averaging over 20 points per game and leads the team in assists. Allen is the big man in the middle causing havoc around the rim shooting 64.4% from the field with back-to-back 20+ point games. Mobley is the Swiss Army knife who can do it all.

This well-balanced team is a nightmare for opposing teams, especially those who have had difficulty scoring the ball like the Pelicans. Even though the Pelicans are a great home team, the Cavaliers are going to control the tempo of this game like they have most of the season. Expect this Cavaliers defense to suffocate the Pelicans offense, putting them in a great spot for a road win.

New Orleans Pelicans

After losing 10 consecutive games, the Pelicans have won three in a row albeit against the Lakers, Kings, and Hawks all at home. This is another home game for the Pelicans, but a completely different test. All three of those teams listed above rank in the bottom 12 of Defensive Rating. The Cavaliers rank first.

Newly acquired Josh Richardson may or may not play, but he truthfully doesn’t move the needle. However, not having Zion Williamson until at least after the All-Star Break is starting to take a toll on this team, especially offensively. In 29 games, Williamson was averaging a team-high 26 points per game this season.

During the Pelicans 10-game losing streak, they averaged only 103.9 points per game. Sure, they lit up the scoreboard in their last three games against weaker defenses, but can they score against the league’s best? CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram need to shoot the lights out to stay competitive tonight.

In his first full season with the Pelicans, McCollum is averaging a career-high 5.9 assists per game. That has certainly made up for his 43.7% shooting from the field, which is the lowest since his 2014-’15 season. Ingram has only played in 21 games, but he as well is shooting an abysmal 45.8% from the field. Not great when the two best scorers are shooting this poorly coming into this spot.

Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas is going to have his hands full with Mobley and Allen in the paint. The Cavaliers are allowing 45.6 points per game in the paint this season, which ranks as the third-best in the league. Despite a 20-9 home record, the Pelicans seem outclassed at nearly every position tonight.

Cavaliers-Pelicans Pick

In their first meeting less than a month ago, the Pelicans shot 50.7% from the field and still lost by double digit points. Mitchell got injured during that game  as Garland took over with a 30-point, 11-assist performance to close the door on the Pelicans. Allen also had a great game with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Taking the Cavaliers despite their road woes feels like the best side to be on. The Pelicans are playing well, but don’t seem ready enough to go toe-to-toe with one of the league’s best teams playing this well.

The back-to-back is a little intimidating, so instead we’ll go with the Pelicans under team total of 111.5 points. The Cavaliers stout defense will overwhelm the Pelicans. I would take this under bet down to 110 total points if the line moves.

Pick: Pelicans Under 111.5 (-110)