Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 14 inclusive:
Springtime might be just around the corner, but it looks like Hell has frozen over. Must be because the Los Angeles Clippers (47-20 SU, 38-28-1 ATS) are the best team in the NBA. They’ve won 10 games in a row to move within three games of the San Antonio Spurs for first place in the overall standings. However, in terms of point differential, the Clippers are first overall at plus-7.2, just a shade ahead of the Spurs at plus-7.1. Yes, the Clippers. Lava sno-cones for everyone.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers (26-40 SU, 30-36 ATS) continue their slow climb back to relevancy since LeBron James skipped town way back in 2010. The Cavs have already eclipsed their win total from last year, but this has still been a very disappointing 2013-14 campaign – as you may have gathered from their record against the NBA betting lines. Cleveland is an 11.5-point road dog for Sunday’s matchup (9:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) with the Clippers.
Buffalo Wants Its Team Back
We’re running out of superlatives for the Clip Joint. They’ve sailed the rough seas of the Western Conference with remarkable aplomb, overcoming injuries to Chris Paul (25.9 PER) and J.J. Redick (17.0 PER) to stake a legitimate claim as title contenders. You can get L.A. at 8-1 on the NBA championship futures market at Bovada, fifth on the list behind the Miami Heat (plus-5.3 point differential) at 11-5. Granted, the Clippers have a tougher path to the NBA Finals than anyone in the East. But that’s nearly four times the payout you’d get from Miami.
The Clippers have sustained this level of play by consistently adding talent over the course of the season. Their latest additions, courtesy of the waiver wire, are veterans Glen Davis (7.7 PER in eight games) and Danny Granger (13.0 PER in six games). Neither of these gentlemen is expected to take command and put big numbers on the board, but as role players coming off the bench, they’ve contributed quite nicely during this 10-game winning streak.
You still don’t want to lean on them too heavily, though. It’s looking increasingly like Redick will miss the rest of the season with a bulging disc, and Jamal Crawford (17.7 PER) has missed six of the last seven games with a strained left calf. The Clippers could use some of their shooting prowess after cashing in just once over their past four contests. Back-up point guard Darren Collison (16.3 PER) is starting alongside Paul for now, which isn’t doing the bench any favors. No word yet as we go to press when Crawford might return.
Ever Ready, Ever Fearless
The Cavaliers have also been adding players as the season has worn on, although with less success. Luol Deng (14.0 PER in 30 games) has yet to play at the same level he did when he was with the Chicago Bulls. Spencer Hawes (18.2 PER in 11 games), on the other hand, is playing some of his best basketball now that he’s been rescued from the Philadelphia 76ers. Most recently, Hawes dumped 22 points and 13 rebounds on the Golden State Warriors (+6.5 away) in Friday’s 103-94 win. That’s two wins SU and ATS for the Cavs so far on this three-game road trip.
Given Crawford’s absence and this uptick in performance from Cleveland, it might be prudent to look at those NBA totals for Sunday’s contest. The UNDER is 5-1-1 for the Clippers since Crawford first left the lineup, and 9-4-1 for the Cavs over the past month. I’ll buy that for a dollar.
NBA Pick: Take UNDER 206.5 at 5Dimes