NBA Picks: Wizards To Run With Cavaliers & Push Total Over 210.5

Jay Pryce

Saturday, February 27, 2016 10:30 PM GMT

The Cavaliers, losers of two of their last three games, are desperate to string a few wins together headed into the final weeks of the regular season. They'll have to first prove themselves against a playoff-seeking Wizards squad in Washington on Saturday (1 p.m. ET). Get your NBA pick and analysis on the game here.

The Cavaliers and Wizards meet for the third time this season on Saturday (1 p.m. ET). Washington shocked Cleveland in the first meeting as an 8.5-point dog on the on the NBA odds board, but fell in round two by six points. It did cover the spread in both, however. In fact, the Wiz have taken two of five meetings straight up against Cleveland (since 2014) when LeBron James suits up. In each victory, the King failed to score 25 points (24, 22), while surpassing this total in each Cavs win. Can Washington cash for bettors again? James and company certainly look vulnerable.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (41-16 SU, 27-28-2 ATS)
The Cavs dropped the second of their last three games in a 99-97 loss to the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night. Toronto outscored Cleveland 31-20 in the fourth quarter, the reigning conference champion's third largest deficit in a loss this season.

One thing bettors need to look out for, is that Cleveland is playing at a noticeably quicker pace under newly hired head coach Tyronn Lue. In 16 games with Lue in charge, the total score has jumped up 10 points more on average, from 197.1 to 207.2. PG Kyrie Irving is thriving under Lue's leadership—at least offensively. The former Duke star is posting 20.9 points per game since the change, despite an lackluster performance on Friday going 4-for-11 from the field for 10 points. When he scores 20 or more on the night, the Cavs are averaging 109.3 points per game, going 13-2 SU and 8-6-1 ATS. But Irving is at his best as a ballhandler and creative force in the middle of the court; bettors like to see a solid assist to turnover ratio. When he posts a 3-to-1 ratio, the Cavs are 7-2 ATS—against Toronto Irving chalked up one assist to two turnovers. Defensively, Irving can be a liability; he let Kyle Lowry drop 43 points with 9 assists in Friday's defeat. Wizards guard John Wall could be in for a huge night.

One area Cleveland excels is preventing teams from beating them in transition, allowing a paltry 10.4 fastbreak points per contest. Part of this is a sign of good shooting, which allows the Cavs to get back on defense. Since Lue took over, they've allowed nine foes to equal this number or go over, and have gone 2-8 ATS, allowing 102.6 points a night. They are 5-2 ATS with 95.2 points given up when under their fastbreak average. The Wizards are one of the NBA's most transition-minded, getting 19.3 a night from the break, second most in the NBA.

 

Washington Wizards (27-30 SU, 30-27 ATS)
The Wiz sit three games back of the playoffs with seven weeks to go in the regular season, and defense is the key to making a postseason push. "I'm going to continue to harp with our guys,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman told reporters following Washington's 103-94 win over the 76ers on Friday. “Our offense will take care of itself. We're going to score points if we get our defense to be active and help our offense."

We picked up on this too in our article covering the most undervalued NBA betting teams following the All-Star break. The gist of the write-up is this: the Wiz flourish in transition offensively, but need to make stops on the other end of the court to allow for efficient breaks. Two key factors help Washington do this: playing poor shooting teams and those who generate few turnovers. The Wizard's post-break schedule is chock-full of these types of opponents; hence they are 4-2 ATS since the return. But the elite-shooting Cavs may be too tough to handle.

Wiz backers may want to forecast how SG Bradley Beal will perform. In addition to his strong defense, bettors like to see Beal involved in the offense. Although he is limited to roughly 30 minutes per game due to chronic pain in his lower leg, when he's producing, the Wiz are beating the number. When the sum of his points and assists on the night surpass 24, Washington is 7-2 ATS and putting up 105.3 points a night, versus a 10-17 ATS record and 101.7 points lesser than. He's eclipsed this figure just two times in nine career outings against the Cavs.

 

Final Analysis
The emphasis may be on defense for the Wiz, but in their last 10 games against teams with a winning record, they've allowed 112.5 points per contest. They'll likely keep it close against a Cavs team desperate to string a few wins together and build confidence heading toward the playoffs. The spread appears dead on in this one. OVER 210.5 looks like the value for our NBA picks

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NBA Pick: Over 210.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker