Cavaliers Look for Answers Without Kevin Love

kevin love

Troy Haliburton

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 4:19 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 4:19 PM GMT

Injuries across the NBA keep piling up and teams are learning how to live by the old adage “next man up.” Cleveland sustained another injury to an All-Star and will have to lean heavily on LeBron James to stay relevant at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Miami Heat at Cleveland CavaliersFree NBA Pick: Cavs -1.5Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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The Cavaliers are coming off another disappointing loss to the Detroit Pistons, who were short-handed Tuesday after trading away half of their team to get Blake Griffin. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will both be facing their old team in the Heat and their old head coach Erik Spoelstra, who was very influential on both of their careers, but there will be no love lost as these teams are competing for playoff seeding.

Wade is coming into his own as a Cavalier after deciding to come off the bench. He is averaging 10.7 points per game and is second on the team in assists with 3.9 per contest. The assist numbers are very important because Cleveland has been lacking at the point guard position with Isaiah Thomas struggling and Derrick Rose recovering from a myriad of injuries. Wade’s playmaking skills allow the second unit to play smoothly and his ability to pass and get others involved has served as a catalyst for their improved play.

From Miami’s perspective, it is finally getting back to the team that finished last season 31-10 and had many analysts suggesting the Heat would be one of the more competitive teams in the Eastern Conference. The Heat had to get over a bout of early-season injuries, especially to star center Hassan Whiteside. He is anchoring the defense with his 1.64 blocks and his 12.6 rebounds per game. While Whiteside is doing his job at protecting the paint, the rest of the team has to improve at keeping teams off of the 3-point line. The Heat are giving up 37.8% from behind the arc to opposing teams, ranking 25th in the NBA. The Cavaliers will try to take advantage of that, as they shoot 36% from deep.

Cleveland is coming in struggling mightily ATS this season with the league's worst ATS record 13-35-1, but with Kevin Love being out of the lineup after breaking his hand on Tuesday, the Cavs have their backs against the wall and history has proven that this is when James plays his best. Look for Cleveland to stave off disaster, if only for one night.

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Breaking: Kevin Love has a broken left hand and will be out 6-8 weeks, via @mcten. pic.twitter.com/jiHeQza6sx

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 31, 2018
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Chicago Bulls at Portland Trail BlazersFree NBA Pick: Bulls +7Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Chicago has been heavily distracted by the talk around Nikola Mirotic’s potential trade and will probably want to come to a conclusion with this situation sooner rather than later. Mirotic was almost dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, but a deal fell through at the last minute because Mirotic has a no-trade clause and will only waive it if his 2018-19 team option is picked up. It would behoove the Bulls to move on from Mirotic as soon as possible because they will still be able to get fair value for him and also open up their roster for younger talent to get more experience.

The future of the Bulls franchise is probably guard Zach LaVine, who made his return from an ACL injury this month, but has struggled shooting the ball recently. LaVine shot 5-for-28 over the last two games, both Bulls losses. LaVine has been thrust into more playing time than he envisioned to start because the Bulls are missing Kris Dunn, who has missed the last six games with a concussion and won't play here.

The Blazers are finding their groove and have won three games in a row. Portland has a record of 24-12-5 ATS, which is decent, but Chicago is 29-20-1 ATS and should continue that trend against a team that is giving up 7 points.

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