76ers vs Cavaliers – NBA Pick for March 1st

by Kevin Roberts
on March 1, 2018
All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from Bovada at 8:32 am CT on 3/1/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

I got burned last night, as LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) went down early and the San Antonio Spurs weren’t able to hold on for the win. They lost in a shootout to the New Orleans Pelicans, who took advantage of Ridge’s ailment to snag their seventh victory in a row.

That made for my second straight defeat, dropping my season NBA picks record to 52-41-2. I’m just 3-3 over my last six games, but I’ve admittedly run into some tough luck.

Thursday offers up a fun six-game basketball betting slate, though, so there’s reason to believe I can turn it around. Bettors won’t be wanting for options, either, as every single game opens with a point spread of -5 or better.

I could really go anywhere on this slate, but my favorite spot is in Cleveland where the Cavs play host to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Philly is undoubtedly on the upward swing. They’re 6-4 over their last 10 contests and currently are holding onto the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

They are the clear underdogs (+3.5 at Bovada) on the road tonight, but they could use this showdown with the Cavs as a bit of a statement game.

Of course, if Philly was going to send a message, it’s possible they would have done so already. It’s Cleveland that has gotten their point across so far, as they’re up 2-0 in the season series.

The series has been a bit of a wash, too. Kevin Love was out for one Cleveland win and Joel Embiid was absent for the other. The Cavs still seem to have the edge, while they’re in just as good of a groove as the Sixers at the moment, walking in with a 6-4 run over their last 10 games.

Vegas is calling this one pretty close to the chest, but Intertops offers the tightest spread (-3) for Cleveland and a 223 Total at least makes you think about attacking the Over.

Those aren’t my favorite betting angles, though, so let’s break this game down further to find out which way is best to target tonight’s showdown at Quicken Loans Arena:

Philadelphia 76ers (+3.5)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-3.5)
Total: 223

The top NBA sportsbooks obviously like this game to be tight and pretty high-scoring. I can’t argue with either stance. The Cavs have displayed one of the league’s worst defenses (28th in efficiency) all year and things haven’t changed that much.

The Brooklyn Nets just dropped 123 points on Cleveland on February 27th, while the Cavs have allowed 110+ points in three of their last four games.

None of that is ideal, but it’s worth noting Cleveland faced the Wizards and Spurs in two of those games. The Cavs have otherwise looked slightly better on defense in other contests and have gone a solid 5-2 since making all of their huge moves ahead of the NBA trade deadline.

There is very real optimism in Cleveland, especially with the Cavs still holding onto the top spot in the Central Division. They’ve been helped out by Indiana and Milwaukee both enduring skids at the moment, but tonight offers the Cavs a chance to distance themselves further from their main competition.

A look at the basic data should help the Cavs. They tend to play their best ball on their home floor (21-9) and they usually respond well to Vegas backing them in similar spots (20-7 when favored at home).

The one thing you can’t trust when it comes to the Cavs is their ability to cover. Cleveland is an abysmal 19-40-1 against the spread on the year and they’re even worse (5-21-1) as home favorites.

I just never love attacking Cleveland ATS and tonight is no different. Their numbers are horrendous, they still have defensive issues and this projects to be a close game with a lot of points.

That still doesn’t get my on Philly, though. I probably would want a little more value than the +145 I’m getting at Bovada if I’m betting against the Cavs in Cleveland. The Sixers can win this game, but they’re still young and inconsistent.

Philly is stacked with talent, but Robert Covington has hit an offensive wall and Ben Simmons hasn’t exactly lit up the Cavs across two meetings this year. That probably can’t be the case tonight, because if it is, it may be Joel Embiid all by himself trying to take the Cavs down in a hostile environment.

Cleveland’s offense is no joke. LeBron James heads an increasingly dynamic unit thanks to all the moves and this was a system that already produced the 6th best field goal percentage, the 10th best three-point shooting numbers and the 5th most points.

If this game was in Philly, I might pay more attention to the Sixers ranking 4th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. However, home teams tend to dictate pace, so I think the Cavs will control the tempo of this game and attack at will. That worked for them in the first two meetings and I think it can again tonight.

Ultimately, I never love betting against Cleveland at home and with these new pieces they have, they could be gearing up for a strong run to close out the year. They also probably wouldn’t mind silencing all this Philly hype by inching closer to a season sweep of this year’s series.

I’ll take the solid value (-155) with Cleveland at home.

Pick: Cavaliers

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