Desperate Cavaliers are the NBA Pick to Cover ATS in Game 2

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 1:45 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 6, 2015 1:45 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Wednesday.


Look for the favorites to win the NBA Championship before these playoffs to safely avoid dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals at home Wednesday when the third seeded Chicago Bulls (55-34, 26-19 away) again visit those second seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (57-30, 33-11 home) for Game 2 from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH at 7:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT. The Bulls lead the series 1-0.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Cleveland as a moderate home favorite for this contest with the current line at -5½ with odds of -108.

Desperation Mode for Short-Handed Cavs
The Cavaliers were without Kevin Love, out for the season with a separated shoulder, and J.R. Smith, suspended for the first two games of this series, in Game 1 and it showed as the underdog Bulls drew first blood 99-92. The Cavaliers need to set the injuries aside here though and find a way to prevail to probably avoid a disappointing early exit, as only three NBA Playoff teams in history have lost the first two games at home and then won the series.

Because of the Cleveland injuries, the Bulls really only needed to defend two bona fide scorers in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and a fast start that resulted in a 27-15 lead after the first quarter made it easier for them to go on to become the winning NBA pick, although Chicago did have some anxious moments when the Cavaliers pulled to within two points in the fourth quarter.

Need More from LeBron James
Because of the two key unexpected personnel losses for the Cavaliers sustained in the final game of their first round series vs. the Boston Celtics, they knew that James needed to be monstrous for them to win this series despite being heavily favored before it began, especially while Smith was out the first two games. And on the surface, James had nice stats in Game 1 but it was not good enough.

James finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists while playing four different positions at various times in the game with Coach David Blatt looking for the right matchups. Most of the league would be quite happy with that stat line, but the Cavaliers really needed more than 19 points considering their lack of scorers right now and his six turnovers proved critical, especially two in the final minutes.

Now LeBron has already said that he intends to be more aggressive in Game 2, which is just what the desperate Cavaliers need, and if he is true to his word they should get off to a much better start, unlike Monday when they were seemingly out of the game after the first quarter before their fourth quarter charge. A quick start may very well translate to a safe win and a 1-1 series here as the Bulls do not figure to match their shooting performance from Game 1.

Sensational Shooting by the Bulls
Incredibly, the Bulls shot 40-for-80, 50.0 percent overall on Monday and, according to ESPNStatsInfo, they went an unbelievable 22-for-26 on open jumpers in the half court. Yes, the Bulls were better offensively this season than recent years averaging in the top half of the league in scoring in 15th with 100.8 points per game, but they were still just 22nd in field goal percentage at 44.2 percent overall.

Also, the general consensus is that the Cavaliers are actually a better defensive team without Love and Smith, especially Love, so that shooting performance by the Bulls was totally unexpected and seems quite anomalous. And do not forget that even with that outrageous Chicago shooting and James not providing as much scoring as had been hoped, the Cavaliers still made a game of it with a chance to win late.

Thus, we could easily see normalized Chicago shooting and a more aggressive James translating to a safe Cleveland victory here.

Trends Favoring Cleveland
Finally there are a couple of nice trends pointing to Cleveland as the Cavaliers are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games following an ATS loss and the Bulls are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 road games following an ATS win.

Look for the sense of desperation to propel Cleveland to a rather safe covering win at home over Chicago in Game 2 on Wednesday.

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NBA Pick: Cavaliers -5½ (-108)

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