Cavaliers vs. Nets Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Cavaliers are all but certainly heading to the playoffs, but who they will face in the first round is still in question. The Nets, on the other hand, are teetering on the brink of the NBA Play-In tournament and need every win they can get at this point of the season.
With Brooklyn reeling and Cleveland playing some good ball, everything seems to check out with this line on the surface. Let’s dig a bit deeper, though, in our Nets vs. Cavaliers preview and prediction.
The Cavaliers are in a weird spot at the moment. They’re four games out of third place in the East, which seems unattainable with the way the Sixers are playing. They’ve also got the Knicks hot on their tails but with a three-game cushion, it’s going to take a huge effort for New York to overtake them.
Cleveland isn’t necessarily playing must-win games at the moment, but it’s 7-3 over the last 10 nonetheless and 6-4 against the spread. With that said, the Cavs’ wins have come over the Wizards, Hornets (twice), and Pistons. They also split a pair with the Heat and shorthanded Celtics.
This game, then, arguably represents the toughest of the month for the Cavaliers. It could be even tougher if Jarrett Allen is unable to go; the former Nets big man is dealing with a right eye contusion and is listed as questionable on the injury report.
The Cavaliers own the league’s top defense over the past 10 games, but that defense is anchored by Allen’s ability to stop shots inside. He played 32 meaningful minutes in an eight-point loss to the Nets earlier this season, scoring 10 points and collecting 11 rebounds.
With that said, it’s very hard to read into any head-to-head involving the Nets prior to the departure of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This team has a much different identity as a defense-first team, so it’s a bit far-fetched to expect Darius Garland to come close to scoring 46 points as he did in the previous meeting.
While the Nets came away with a win in the lone game between these two teams, it came under much different circumstances. As noted above, they had Durant and Irving, who combined for 64 points. Without them (and without 23 points from T.J. Warren, who is also gone), Brooklyn didn’t necessarily dominate any facet of the game.
Nic Claxton really struggled in his 30 minutes, snatching just four rebounds to go along with 10 points and posting a team-worst -16 plus/minus. The fourth-year man out of Georgia has simply been a revelation over the past six games for Brooklyn with 15.7 points and 10.3 boards in 32.5 minutes over the last six games, and without him this team may be sitting seventh in the East.
If you want to know which team is going to enter with more at stake, look no further than the Nets. Brooklyn is just a game clear of the play-in range with the Heat lurking in seventh place. The Nets are on a three-game losing streak and in serious danger of waking up Thursday morning to find themselves on the outside looking in.
I’m worried for the Nets in this spot. Should Allen play in this one, I think Claxton will be severely limited by his elite interior defense and that could tip the scales towards the home team here. Allen was able to practice before the Cavaliers left for Brooklyn on Tuesday, which puts him in a good spot. The Nets have Dorian Finney-Smith listed as questionable on their side with a wrist injury.
The Cavs have been nearly unstoppable in Cleveland and they’ve been pretty solid in their road games, too. They’re one of the few teams with a positive Net Rating on the road, checking in with a +2.2 per 100 possessions, and as road favorites they are an encouraging 11-9-2 against the spread.
The Nets have fumbled away the chance to put up some meaningful wins over the Nuggets and Kings and have now dropped three of their last four at home. There’s no guarantee this one goes their way, and with Allen in the lineup I don’t think it will.
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