The Cavs are 10.5-point favorites tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. Cleveland is back over .500 & likely there to stay, as they have an Eastern Conference-high three-game winning streak.
Cavaliers Offense Firing on All Cylinders
There was minor panic in northeast Ohio not too long ago when the Cavs dropped four straight games to fall to 5-7. Time to panic? Apparently not. Cleveland (8-7) has followed by crushing Orlando, Washington and Indiana, all at Quicken Loans Arena. Kevin Love had a season-high 28 points in Saturday's 109-97 win over the Pacers. He was 9-for-13 from the field and added 10 rebounds in easily his best game in a Cleveland uniform. In his last four games, Love is shooting.580 from the field while averaging 21.0 points and 7.5 rebounds. Kyrie Irving had 24 points and tied a career high with 10 rebounds against Indiana, while LeBron James added 19 points.
The Cavs are winning by an average of 23.3 points in this winning streak. In that run, the Cavs averaging 109.3 points on .519 shooting, 24.3 assists, 11.0 turnovers and 10.3 steals. Opponents are scoring only 86.0 points on .404 shooting. If the Cavs get to triple digits they are money at sportsbooks. Cleveland is 8-1 when doing so this season and has won seven straight. Cleveland is also 5-0 when hitting at least 50 percent of its shots.
Cleveland played Saturday without injured starting center Anderson Varejao due to a rib injury. However, he practiced fully Monday and should be good to go vs. Milwaukee. The Brazilian is having a great season, averaging 10.9 points (stellar .611 shooting) and 6.9 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per night. That means Tristan Thompson should head back to the bench. Thompson had 13 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes vs. the Pacers.
Coach David Blatt didn't guarantee that Thompson wouldn't stay in the staring lineup, however. If there's one glaring weakness on the Cavs it's the bench. It is last in the league in averaging 22.3 points per game -- Mike Miller has become a forgotten man. The Cavs' reserves were outscored 52-16 by Indiana’s bench and shot 37.5 percent from the floor. Backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova hasn't played since the third game of the season due to a knee injury. He won't Tuesday but might Thursday.
The Cavs are 7-8 against the NBA betting spread this season and 5-9-1 'over/under.'
Bucks Showing Promise
Milwaukee (10-8) has been one of the more improved teams in the Eastern Conference after finishing last season with an NBA-low 15 wins, the fewest in team history. The Bucks had a three-game winning streak snapped Saturday night at home, falling 117-103 to a Houston team missing starters Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. Bucks rookie Jabari Parker had perhaps his best game with 19 points (13-for-14 from free-throw line after entering without a made free throw at home this year), nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. However, starting guard O.J. Mayo was just 2-for-10 from the field for 6 points. He has been a major bust since being the team's big free-agent signing before last season.
The Bucks played Houston without two rotation big men: Zaza Pachulia (personal reasons) and John Henson (sprained left foot) missed the game. Pachulia averages 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in about 20 minutes per game and will rejoin the team in Cleveland. Henson, who averages 4.2 points and 2.7 boards in around 12 minutes, will miss a few weeks. He blossomed last year but really has taken a step back in 2014-15 under first-year coach Jason Kidd, who doesn't seem to want to play Henson much even when healthy. The Bucks bench averages 45.3 points per night, No. 2 in the NBA to Phoenix. Ersan Ilyasova has scored at least 10 points in eight straight off the bench, one shy of his career high.
Milwaukee is 12-6 against the spread in NBA odds this year and 8-10 'over/under.'
The Bucks and Cavaliers split four meetings, but clearly both teams are vastly superior this season. Cleveland has won three straight at home in the series. LeBron likes facing the Bucks in his career, averaging 28.7 points on .505 shooting in 40 games. We will have to see if Kidd allows Parker to guard LeBron -- that could temporarily ruin Parker's confidence -- or if he goes with the athletic "Greek Freak," Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks are 7-1 ATS at sportsbooks in their past eight after a loss, but Cleveland has it going right now. The 'under' is 6-1 in Milwaukee's past seven after a loss. The 'under' is 6-1 in Cleveland's past seven overall. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings.
NBA Free Picks: Cavaliers -10.5 points and 'under' 202.5 points at BetOnline