Cleveland is on its first two-game losing streak of the young season, one that started with a loss in Milwaukee. The Cavs are home Thursday,are they our NBA pick.
Milwaukee Sans Jabari
The Bucks (5-6) come off one of their worst games of the season, a 115-86 loss in Washington on Tuesday. Bucks coach Jason Kidd pinpointed one stretch of the game that was likely the difference. His team had cut an 18-point halftime deficit to six early in the third. The Bucks were then down 74-66 when Wizards star John Wall missed two free throws. But the Bucks not only didn't get the rebound of the second miss, but Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled Kris Humphries as they fought for it. Humphries made two foul shots for a 10-point Washington lead and it was part of a game-clinching 13-0 run.
Washington scored 27 points off 19 Milwaukee turnovers and had an 18-2 advantage in fast-break points. No Bucks player had more than Khris Middleton's 14 points. Antetokounmpo was 3-for-13 from the field for nine points. Greg Monroe had just four points on 1-for-6 from the field and was a team-worst minus-26. The Wizards hit 52.9 percent from the field overall and 54.5 percent from long range.
Milwaukee played that game without starting forward Jabari Parker. He was out with a mid-foot (right) sprain and is not expected to play Thursday. He felt discomfort in the foot after playing a season-high 30 minutes on Saturday and an MRI on Monday showed the problem. Parker has played five games since returning from left knee surgery that cut his rookie year way short. He has averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game. The Bucks have had their projected starting five -- Parker isn't playing both ends of a back-to-back yet -- for only one game. Parker did break that right foot in 2012.
The Bucks are 5-6 against the spread on NBA odds and 6-5 'over/under.'
Cleveland Playing 'Soft'
The Cavaliers (8-3) are off a 104-99 loss in Detroit to complete a three-game road trip. They blew a late 97-93 lead when intentionally fouling Pistons center Andre Drummond, a terrible free-throw shooter, backfired. The Cavs shot 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) in the fourth quarter with five turnovers. LeBron James had 30 points but only seven in the second half. The Cleveland bench combined for just 10 points. James has scored at least 30 points in four straight games and five of the past six.
Looking for one flaw on the Cavs? They are shooting just .687 percent from the free-throw line, second-worst in the NBA. The missed six straight at one point in the third quarter vs. the Pistons when Cleveland could have expanded on a 13-point lead. LeBron is shooting.616 from the stripe; he's a .743 career shooter from there.
A return home should solve all of Cleveland's problems. The Cavs are 5-0 there this season and have won 25 of their past 26 at Quicken Loans Arena, winning in 17 of the games by double digits and outscoring opponents by 11.7 points per game over that stretch. The Cavs' Tristan Thompson will play in his 300th straight game on Thursday, becoming the fourth Cavalier in history to reach that mark. The team record is 361 by Jim Chones.
The Cavaliers are 3-8 ATS on NBA picks and 6-5 O/U.
On Saturday in Milwaukee, the Cavaliers were 5-point favorites (total of 194.5) and they were upset 108-105 in double overtime in one of the better games in the Association thus far in 2015-16. That ended Cleveland's eight-game winning streak. LeBron had a season-high 37 points (with 12 rebounds and five assists) but none in the final 3:15 of the second overtime, missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the end of the first OT and had seven turnovers. The Cavs turned it over 20 times, leading to 27 Bucks points. Antetokounmpo had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee before fouling out with 3:15 left in the second overtime and Monroe added 16 points and 17 rebounds. The Cavs have won four of their past five home games over the Bucks.
Give the points, go 'over.' The Bucks are 1-5 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. Cleveland is 5-2 ATS in its past seven on Thursday. The 'over' is 5-1 in Milwaukee's past six following a loss. The 'over' is 5-1 in Cleveland's past six overall.
NBA Picks: Cavaliers -9.5 & Over 194 at Heritage