NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 30, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Thursday.

Two teams that have underperformed compared to preseason expectations square off on national TV Thursday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers (16-29, 5-17 away) pay a visit to the New York Knicks (18-27, 10-15 home) at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Cleveland as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +5½ with odds of -105.

This could be a classic case of “buying low” with the Cavaliers after they were called out by Coach Mike Brown following a 100-89 loss to New Orleans Tuesday that wrapped up a 1-4 home stand, as he questioned the team’s “competitive spirit”. That is basically that same thing as saying the team has quit, and we actually expect the Cavaliers to respond favorably to those comments to prove Brown wrong, whether he meant what he said or not.

The Knicks meanwhile could be playing their best basketball of the season, which seems illogical as they are doing so with forwards Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire both out with injuries. Furthermore, you can probably add guard Iman Shumpert to that list now as he is doubtful for tonight after injuring his shoulder on Tuesday.

The Cavaliers were believed to be much improved entering this season and a few experts even had them tabbed as a darkhorse playoff team, but the Andrew Bynum acquisition proved to be a disaster and Cleveland has been weak in the middle with the first overall pick in the draft Anthony Bennett a bust so far and Anderson Varejao now injured.

This is not a team lacking in talent though, especially since All-Star Kyrie Irving has managed to avoid injuries for the most part like last season, allowing him to lead the team in scoring with 21.5 points per game while suiting up for 42 contests. His backcourt mate Dion Waiters and forward Tristan Thompson are also averaging in double-digits and Luol Deng is also averaging 15.6 points in his 10 games with Cleveland since coming over from the Chicago Bulls.

Perhaps that talent is the reason for Brown’s frustration, and who can blame him after the Cavs averaged only 91.2 points on that five-game home stand. If the Cavaliers do not show some improvement tonight after having their manhood questioned like that, then perhaps this is a dead team that should be avoided going forward. The team might get a boost as Varejao could return, but if he does not at least Bennett showed improvement with 15 points and eight boards Tuesday.

The Knick won their third straight game on this eight-game home stand that began 0-3 when they routed the reeling Boston Celtics 114-88 Tuesday, but the loss of Shumpert may prove more critical. Yes. Carmelo Anthony has been on fire during the three-game winning streak, a streak that began with him setting a Madison Square Garden record with 62 points.

But Shumpert is one of the Knicks’ better defenders and New York cannot continue to count on getting 63 points off the bench like it did vs. the Celtics, especially with another bench player now being forced to start in Shumpert’s stead.

Given the directions that these teams have been heading in lately, it is easy to forget that they are separated by just two games in the conference standings with the Knicks in 10th place just one game behind the surprising Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth and final playoff spot and the Cavaliers 11th at three games back. So if Cleveland takes Brown’s words to heart, there is still time to prove those that predicted them as darkhorses correct.

Look for an improved, inspired effort by the Cavaliers on national television, leading to an underdog cover at MSG on Thursday.


NBA Pick: Cavaliers +5½ (-105)

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