Injured Lakers & Slow Tempo Cavaliers Make 'Under' Our Sharp NBA Pick

Jay Pryce

Thursday, March 10, 2016 7:14 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 10, 2016 7:14 PM UTC

The Cavaliers and Lakers clash for the second time in a month, L.A. hoping to pull off another big upset after ousting the Warriors two games ago. Get your best NBA picks here.

Cleveland Cavaliers (44-18 SU, 28-32-2 ATS)
LeBron James and company got back to their winning ways last night, besting the Kings 120-111 as 7-point chalk in Sacramento. James had 25 points and 11 boards, while PG Kyrie Irving lit it up for 30.

Following last night, Cleveland is just 18-12 SU on the road, going 13-16-1 ATS. The team tends to step up against stout competition, going 7-1 ATS when a dog or a short-priced favorite of -1.5 or less. In these eight games, the defense holds opponents to 88.2 points on 50.7 percent shooting. The team falters, however, when expected to win by a bucket or more, going 6-15-1 ATS. The defense eases up with opponents scoring 99.1 per game on 45.4 percent shooting.

The Cavs are playing at a quicker pace under newly hired head coach Tyronn Lue. In 22 games with Lue in charge, the total score has jumped up 10 points more on average, from 197.1 to 208.0. That's not all that has changed. Irving is loving it under Lue's leadership—at least offensively. The former Duke star, although at his best as a ballhandler and creative force in the middle of the court, is posting 22.0 points per game since the change. When he scores 22 or more on the night, which he has done in exactly half the games under Lue, the Cavs are averaging 107.7 points per game. The total has gone OVER in eight of 11. Irving is 21-for-43 lifetime from the floor against the Lakers' current roster.

One area Cleveland excels is preventing teams from beating them in transition, allowing a paltry 10.6 fastbreak points per contest. Part of this is a sign of good shooting, which allows the Cavs to get back on defense. Since Lue took over, they've allowed 13 foes to equal this number or go over. In these games, the Cavs are 3-9-1 against the NBA odds boards, allowing 103.8 a night. They are 7-2 ATS with 96.0 points given up when under their fastbreak average. The Lakers aren't a team to push the court, getting just 11.6 per night in transition. This will likely slow the tempo down and keep the Cavs offense from running too fast. Under Lue, against offenses dashing for 11.8 or more a night, the Cavs are 8-4-1 ATS, putting up 109.8 a night as opposed to a 2-6 record versus the number on 102.8 points per game.


Los Angeles Lakers (14-51 SU, 31-33-1 ATS)
For only the third time all season, the Lakers have strung together two wins in a row after besting the Magic 107-98 on Tuesday. The streak started after L.A. torched the Warriors 112-95 on Sunday as a 17-point underdog, the biggest upset in the NBA this year.

Kobe Bryant sat out with a sore shoulder against Orlando, an injury expected to plague him for the foreseeable future. His status is unclear for tonight. Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell ran the show in his absence, while Julius Randle posted a career-high 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds. He now has three straight double-doubles.

The UNDER is 13-1 this season when Bryant sits out of a game, staying below the total by an average of 13 points. Its a combination of better defense and poor shooting for L.A., as it has stayed south of its projected team total in 10 and held opponents below theirs in 11 of 14. Going 7-7 ATS, the Lakers lose by average of almost nine points, 100.7 to 91.9. The Lakers will fail to reach 100 points, and the Cavs should not pull away by too many under the pace scenario. My NBA Picks is to back the UNDER in this play.

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Free NBA Basketball Pick: Under 209
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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