NBA Picks for Cavaliers vs. Knicks

Jason Lake

Sunday, March 23, 2014 12:13 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 23, 2014 12:13 PM GMT

The New York Knicks have won eight games in a row at 6-2 ATS. The Cleveland Cavaliers have done well against the NBA lines lately, but they have six players on the injured list, including All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 21 inclusive:

86-71-2 ATS

23-20-1 Totals

If this weren’t the Eastern Conference, maybe we could invoke the Mercy Rule and let the Cleveland Cavaliers end their season early. They’ve lost 11 of their last 15 to slide 6.5 games out of a playoff spot in the East with just a dozen games left to go. The Long March to oblivion continued Saturday night with a 118-111 loss to the Houston Rockets. But turn that frown upside-down: The Cavs pulled off the matador cover as 8-point home dogs. They’re 5-1 ATS in their last six games. God loves Cleveland.

But God loves New York even more. The Knicks have won their last eight games at 6-2 ATS to stay within three games of that last playoff spot, and they’ve got no reason to stop, because they don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft. New York has opened on the NBA betting odds board as a 4.5-point home favorite in Sunday’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG) with the Cavs. Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo.

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The Ballad of Irving
Cleveland’s Saturday night cover was a nailbiter – Tyler Zeller (14.2 PER) put in the decisive lay-up with no time on the clock after a pair of offensive rebounds kept the possession alive. The Cavaliers (26-44 SU, 33-37 ATS) were down to nine active players in this contest, too. Here’s the list of walking wounded:

Kyrie Irving (strained left biceps) – out

Anthony Bennett (strained left knee) – out

Carrick Felix (stress fracture in left knee) – out

Luol Deng (sprained left ankle) – questionable

C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle) – questionable

Sergey Karasev (right knee tendinitis) – questionable

Irving (20.0 PER) is obviously the key figure here. But his absence does help Cleveland from a basketball betting perspective. Casual bettors are a lot more likely to fade the Cavaliers when the All-Star point guard is out of commission. And yet this gives Dion Waiters (13.1 PER) a chance to do his thing without worrying about not getting the ball from Irving. On Saturday, Waiters led the Cavs with 26 points in a backcourt pairing with Jarrett Jack (10.9 PER), while Matthew Dellavedova (10.2 PER) put up 14 points and 10 assists off the bench, and he even set up the ATS-winning bucket.

 Shop Around for 2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures 

Albatross Flavor
Captivating stuff. Now the Cavaliers have to drag their tired bodies to Madison Square Garden to face the rested Knicks (29-40 SU, 30-39 ATS), who were idle on Saturday and have played just twice since March 15. That’s music to the ears and knees of Amar’e Stoudemire (18.7 PER), who has taken on a much bigger workload since the All-Star break and is now stating at power forward. Stoudemire might be the most hated player in New York because of his albatross contract and his minutes played, but when STAT does take the floor, he’s still quite something.

Stoudemire was at it again Friday night, leading the Knicks with 22 points and 10 rebounds in a 93-92 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers (+12 at home). It wasn’t nearly enough to get the cover, though. Philly’s been getting way too many points lately, and New York nearly shot itself in the foot by hitting just 7-of-29 from downtown. I was expecting to see the Knicks laying too many points again on Sunday, but 4.5 points doesn’t seem all that daunting against the hobbled and weary Cavs. On March 8, New York won this matchup 107-97 as a 1-point road dog when Irving was healthy and scored 30 points. I’ll buy that for a dollar.

NBA Pick: Take the Knicks –4.5

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