NBA Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -2 over Cleveland Cavaliers

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 29, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

The Cavaliers have lost six straight games and are 1-7 since Kyrie Irving went down, and while the 76ers are last in the NBA in scoring, they have averaged 102 points the last four games.

The home team is struggling badly without its injured All-Star, and that should coniine on Friday night when the Philadelphia 76ers (28-43, 7-26 away) pay a visit to those Cleveland Cavaliers (22-48, 13-22 home) at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH at 7:35 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Philadelphia as a small road favorite for this contest with the current line at -2 with odds of -106.

The Cavaliers did give the Celtics a tough battle on Wednesday, but in the end they lost there sixth straight game 93-92, enabling the slumping Celtics to snap a five-game losing streak of their own.

Cleveland is still playing without injured All-Star Kyrie Irving, who has missed the last eight games with a sprained shoulder. Irving has not been shut down for the season just yet, but his return does not appear imminent and it may come to that point if he is not back soon.

Irving is averaging 23.0 points per game, which would place him seventh in the NBA in scoring if he had enough minutes to qualify, which the injury prone star does not. The Cavaliers are 1-7 straight up in this latest sting without him, and although they are actually 5-3 ATS in those games, they were bigger underdogs than they are tonight in all of the covering losses.

The Cavs have obviously been unable to replace Irving’s offense, as the current starting backcourt of Wayne Ellington and Shaun Livingston is combining to score 17.7 points this season, with Livingston and his 7.1 points per game currently being forced to play 30 minutes every night. That lack of firepower is a major concern for a team that needs to outscore teams to win with virtually no help from the defense.

That is because Cleveland is allowing 101.3 point per game overall mainly because it is ranked dead last in the NBA in field goal percentage allowed at a very generous 47.7 percent. Moreover, not only are the Cavaliers not improving defensively, but they are actually getting worse, allowing their last five opponents to shoot a distressing 49.6 percent!

Now, the 76ers are dead last in the NBA in scoring at 92.9 points per game, but you would not know it over their last four games and they reached 100 points in three of them and averaged 102.0 points over the four contests.

Yes, two of the 100-point efforts were vs. the poor Milwaukee and Sacramento defenses and the other was vs. a Denver defense that will allow points because of the Nuggets’ pace, but at least Philadelphia is proving that it can score on bad defenses and it is facing another one tonight. Most recently, the Sixers shot 47.2 percent in a 100-92 home win over the Bucks while getting amazing balance with six players scoring at least 13 points.

Finally, although it is obviously a longshot, Wednesday’s win leaves the 76ers seven games behind the Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot, and after this game the Sixers play a home-and-home series with the Charlotte Bobcats, so given some dissension going on in Milwaukee right now, who knows what could happen if Philadelphia wins these winnable games and possibly applies some pressure.

Look for the 76ers to take the first step by getting by the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday.

[gameodds]5/223312/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: 76ers -2 (-106)