LeBron James continued to exorcise one of his other demons Tuesday in Dallas, but as those following the NBA odds know, James has a history with San Antonio and it’s not all good.
James has met the Spurs three times in the NBA Finals and lost twice and in 17 career games at the AT&T Center, the King is 5-12 SU and his 25.2 scoring average in nine regular season games in that building is the lowest among any in the Western Conference.
With both Cleveland (41-25 and 32-34 ATS) and San Antonio (40-23, 28-33-2 ATS) playing well, this is an anticipated contest by NBA basketball handicappers and fans alike.
Cavaliers are Clicking
After a 19-20 start, Cleveland hit the refresh button and is 22-5 and 19-8 ATS since. While the Cavaliers are establishing themselves as a truly elite team, there is room for improvement after being 4-3 and 3-4 ATS in their most recent outings.
If you are a Cavs fan or like to use them for sports picks versus NBA odds, you have to like the subtle changes they made in the rout of Dallas and this is something to look for tonight and in future Cleveland contests.
Coach David Blatt has seen his team being slowed some and wanted them to play faster, getting the ball whenever possible in James and Kyrie Irving’s hands. This place more pressure on opposing defensives to get back, while spreading the floor on a controlled or all-out fastbreak. Additionally, this opens up the floor for shooters on drives to the paint and kick-out passes for open looks.
Even more impressive is the trust factor with the coach and players as Blatt wants to play in the paint more, feeding center Timofey Mozgov and Kevin Love. This engages Mozgov more and Love becomes more than just a jump-shooter and forces defenses to find where he is at more often. Thus, if Love starts inside and drifts outside, this opens the lane for Mozgov or slashers to the basket.
San Antonio Beginning To Grind Towards Peak
The Spurs have won six in a row (5-1 ATS) and are healthier than they have been at any point this season. Yes, Tim Duncan did hyperextend his elbow two nights but everything points to him being ready to go in the second matchup on TNT.
The Spurs are sixth in the West and would prefer to move up to at least third place, giving them one home series and not having to face Golden State possibly until the West Finals.
Tony Parker might still have a nagging hamstring issue, but it has not hampered him lately and Kawhi Leonard has been working his way back to the level of play a year ago.
Tonight, the Spurs will want to play a slower pace than Cleveland and work the shot clock to make the Cavaliers play defense longer to frustrate them and break them down with execution.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
Sportsbooks sent out this intriguing encounter at a pick and early this morning Cleveland was a 1.5-point road favorite with a total of 207. Over 70 percent of wagers placed were on the visitor.
San Antonio has defeated Cleveland 10 consecutive times and posted a 7-2-1 ATS record in this stretch. This includes a 92-90 thriller on the shores of Lake Erie back in November and the last time the Cavaliers won it was March of 2010.
It is presumed both teams will be fully focused and Cleveland was handed a scheduling break on their four-game road trip, not playing again until Sunday in Florida, where they will take on Orlando and be at Miami the following night. Off their win at Dallas, the Cavs are 20-15 and 16-19 ATS with a day off, winning by 3.1 points per game.
San Antonio also received the same treatment and will be off until Selection Sunday, when Minnesota pays a visit before heading to The Garden for St. Patrick’s Day in New York. The Spurs are 20-9 and 17-12 ATS with a winning margin of +5.8 points with a day between games.
There is every reason to believe this should be an outstanding contest. For NBA Picks I’ll back the team which has been domineering in this series and have to consider this: Road teams like Cleveland when the line is +3 to -3, after going over the total by more than 18 points in their previous game and have won 60 to 75 percent of their games on the season and are facing a team with a winning record, are 8-34 ATS the past five seasons.
NBA Basketball Free Pick – San Antonio +1.5 at 5Dimes