Cavaliers at Kings – NBA Pick for December 27th
Spread: Cavaliers -9.5
Christmas wasn’t so merry for the Cavaliers this year, as Cleveland was beaten 99-92 by the Golden State Warriors on Monday afternoon. The loss dropped the Cavs to 24-10 on the year, but they’ll have a great shot at getting back on track on Wednesday night when they take on the lowly Kings in Sacramento.
Things aren’t looking good for the Kings. They attempted to get some veteran leadership into the squad over the summer when they signed George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter as free agents. Despite the influx of cagey veterans and a couple of high-profile rookies in De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson, the Kings are still the Kings.
Sacramento was throttled on Tuesday night in Los Angeles by the injury-ravaged Clippers. The Kings never seriously challenged LAC in the game and wound up losing in embarrassing fashion, 122-95. It was the Kings’ 4th loss in their last 6 games, and they’re now just 11-22 on the year.
It was reported a few weeks ago that Hill was frustrated by the Kings’ losing. What did he expect? He joined a young team that hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2006. It’s safe to say they won’t be making it this season, either.
Fox is currently injured, which means more minutes for Hill, Frank Mason III and Buddy Hield. Mason has arguably been Sacramento’s most impressive rookie to this point. The former Kansas Jayhawk’s season-long averages don’t jump off the board, but the 5’11” guard plays with good energy on both ends of the floor. He’s hitting an impressive 42.5 percent from three-point range, as well.
As for Cleveland, they have been on something of a roll since their lackluster start to the year. LeBron James tends to hog the headlines, but Kevin Love is quietly in the midst of one of the finest statistical seasons of his career. After struggling to find his role in the offense alongside James and Kyrie Irving, Love has thrived as the No. 2 option this season. The 29-year-old is averaging 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, and he’s also hit 41.6 percent of his three-point attempts thus far. That three-point percentage would be his best mark in a Cavs uniform, and the best since he shot 41.7 percent in his third season as a pro.
Centers have been giving the Kings fits all season long, and they don’t really have anybody capable of checking Love, who spaces the floor nicely around James. Sacramento has a bunch of lumbering bigs like Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Randolph, and it’s tough to imagine any of them effectively chasing Love all over the floor. He figures to be in for a huge night.
Then there’s James, who will be returning to the scene of his first-ever regular season NBA game. LeBron made his debut in 2003 against the Kings in Sacramento, and he said that the city will always have a place in his heart as a result. In 25 career games against the Kings, The King is averaging 27 points, 8.5 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks.
This game has all the makings of a rout. The Kings had to travel late last night after playing in Los Angeles on Tuesday, while the Cavs have been resting up in NorCal since Monday. Cleveland will be out for blood after the disappointing loss to Golden State, so expect James, Love and the rest of the Cavs to come out hungry tonight.