NBA Picks for Lakers vs. Cavaliers

Jason Lake

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 1:12 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Lakers got two of their veteran guards back Tuesday night, and voila, they beat the NBA lines for the first time in a week. Now they get to play the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 3 inclusive:

59-43-1 ATS

14-13 Totals

Never let it be said I don’t suffer for my art. I had the dubious pleasure of watching the Los Angeles Lakers play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, and good gravy, that was an awful game. But as they often do, the Lakers (16-32 SU, 25-22-1 ATS) found a way to beat the basketball odds. They lost 109-99 as 10.5 point road dogs.

The margin of error will be smaller on Wednesday when the Lakers visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (16-32 SU, 19-29 ATS). The early NBA lines have Cleveland favored by 6.5 points with a total of 210, and believe it or not, it looks like the sharp action was on the Cavaliers right out of the gate, despite their current 0-5 SU and ATS streak. That’s how ugly the Lakers are these days.

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Eh, Steve!

There were actually some very entertaining moments in Tuesday’s game – especially Corey Brewer’s missed slam-dunk in the final minute that helped the Lakers secure the cover. This was the first game back for point guards Steve Nash (6.5 PER) and Steve Blake (13.1 PER), and Nash looked particularly crisp after missing over half the season with nerve irritation in his lower back and hamstrings. Nash dished out nine assists in 25 minutes and shot 3-of-6 for seven points. Blake missed both his shots, but was generally useful with six assists, five rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.

There was also some strong play in the second half when Los Angeles went with a very small lineup of two guards, two wings and one center – necessitated by the absence of Pau Gasol (19.1 PER), who has a groin injury and won’t return until after the All-Star break. Nick Young (14.6 PER) and Wesley Johnson (10.8 PER) combined for 39 points and kept the Lakers from getting completely blown out.

Head Injuries

Which is exactly what was happening when Los Angeles was playing a more traditional lineup. Ryan Kelly (12.1 PER) was absolutely brutal in this matchup, shooting 2-for-11. Chris Kaman (14.8 PER) stumbled around like a moose that got hit with a tranquilizer dart. The one big that should have been soaking up Gasol’s minutes, Jordan Hill (18.8 PER), was once again relegated to the bench, and he only played four minutes before getting conked in the head and leaving the game.

But wait, there’s more. Jodie Meeks (13.9 PER) sprained his right ankle after just one minute of action and needed assistance to get to the dressing room. Manny Harris (7.6 PER) got the chance to play 21 minutes, and he made the most of it with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and eight rebounds. And yet here we are again with the Lakers down to half a roster despite the return of Nash and Blake.

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Fight the Youth

Meanwhile, back in Cleveland, former Lakers coach Mike Brown must be wringing his hands in glee at the prospect of facing a wounded team playing on zero days of rest. The Cavs need all the help they can get. Injuries aren’t the problem – just lousy chemistry and lack of experience. At least Luol Deng (16.6 PER) is starting to find his way on defense again; his Simple Rating of plus-2.5 is already third on the team behind Anderson Varejao (plus-5.5) and C.J. Miles (plus-5.0).

Having said that, Cleveland is still 5-9 SU and 4-10 ATS since acquiring Deng, and rumor has it that Kyrie Irving (20.0 PER) wants out of town on the next train. What kind of train would that be, Geoff?

NBA Pick: Take the Lakers +6.5 at JustBet