Every team in the NBA has at least three home wins this season, except the 76ers. Will that change Monday? They are 4-point underdogs on NBA betting odds against short-handed Cleveland.
Two-Thirds of Cavs' Big 3 Out
Cleveland rookie head coach David Blatt is under a ton of pressure to win. There seem to be daily reports of friction between Blatt and his team. Recently it caused Cavs GM David Griffin to say this: "Coach Blatt is our coach. He's going to remain our coach. Do not write that as a vote of confidence. He never needed one. It was never a question. So don't write it that way."
Still, imagine that pressure if the Cavaliers lose against the 76ers, who might go down as the worst team in NBA history. Don't rule it out because both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, two of the Cavaliers' Big 3 along with Kevin Love, will not play. LeBron has missed four straight games, in which the Cavaliers are 1-3, with knee and lower back issues. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, but the team still expects him to miss another two weeks or so. James may not be his invincible self any longer but still averages 25.2 points, 7.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds. So, yeah, he's good. The NBA MVP race is very wide open now, however.
Irving left Sunday's 109-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks early because of tightness in his lower back and didn't travel with the team to Philly. This is a new injury for Irving, and he said he was in a lot of pain so this could be a multiple game deal as well. Irving scored a season-low six points on 2-for-9 shooting against Dallas as he tried to play through it. He originally hurt it in Friday's win over Charlotte. Now the team's starting backcourt will be backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, who had been starting since James went out, and Dion Waiters. Of course the Cavs lost starting center Anderson Varejao a few weeks ago to a season-ending injury. Yet this very flawed club remains the +360 favorite at sportsbooks to win the NBA title. If you play those daily fantasy leagues, expect a monster game tonight from Love as he will be the primary offensive guy on Cleveland.
Also keep in mind before placing your NBA picks that Cleveland is 13-21 against the NBA betting spread this season and 12-21-1 'over/under.'
They Are Who We Thought They Were!
As expected, the 76ers (4-28) have the worst winning percentage in the NBA, although not by much over the New York Knicks. The team is on pace to win just over 10 games. The fewest wins in an 82-game season was nine by the 1972-73 76ers. I have a feeling that 73-loss record is safe because as we get later into the season these Sixers will be able to beat a few teams who have given up on the year and/or are tanking for draft position just like Philly is.
The Sixers enter this one on a five-game skid and still without a home win in 14 tries. They are last in scoring (90.8 ppg) and assists (19.7 per game) and 26th in scoring defense (104.4). Last season's NBA Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, sat out Saturday's loss at the Los Angeles Clippers with a minor shoulder injury but says he will play in this one. MCW is a decent player but he has no range whatsoever. He's hitting just 19.7 percent from beyond 16 feet this season. He also turns it over on average 4.6 times per game. That's worst in the NBA. No. 2? Carter-Williams' teammate, Tony Wroten (4.0 per game). To no surprise then, Philly is last in the league in turnovers (19.1 per game). Meanwhile, guard Hollis Thompson has missed six straight games with an illness and is doubtful for this one.
The 76ers are 14-18 against the spread this season and 14-18 'over/under' on NBA odds.
I probably wouldn't have even included last season's results if LeBron were healthy considering the Cavaliers are clearly a very different team with him around. But since he's not playing it's more relevant. Cleveland won three of the four matchups in 2013-14. The Cavs averaged 107.8 points and the 76ers 99.3. Irving averaged 19.8 points and Waiters 16.8. Carter-Williams averaged 20.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists for Philly.
NBA Free Picks: Philadelphia +4 and 'under' 193 points at 5Dimes. The Cavs have covered just one of their past nine after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The 'under' is 6-1 in Cleveland's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. It is 7-1 in the past eight meetings.