Cleveland Cavaliers (-7.5, 199 o/u) at Milwaukee Bucks
LeBron James predicted it would take his team some time to get it together this season. Now, with the playoffs looming, the Cleveland Cavaliers (50-27) are performing at a high level, which has James excited.
“We’re a championship contender, but we’re not there yet,” James said. “We have the talent, we’ve had the process so far, but we still have some time left and we won’t take those days for granted.”
By beating the Chicago Bulls on Sunday 99-94, the Cavs all but clinched the No. 2 seed in the East. James notched his first triple-double of the season against the Bulls, scoring 20 points while adding 12 assists and ten rebounds.
“We’ve been playing some really good ball,” James said. “We still make some young team mistakes. Hopefully we can get past those very soon.”
This season the Cavs have lived and died by three-point shot at times. The approach paid off on Sunday with J.R. Smith draining eight triples and Kevin Love adding another three.
“We’ve been a very good 3-point shooting team all year,” coach David Blatt said. “A lot of it is coming off of action from the post or from drive or kick out, which is a very good thing. No complaints.”
Tonight, the Cavs travel to Milwaukee to face the sixth-place Bucks (38-39), who have dropped six of their last ten. The Jason Kidd-coached team had a modest two-game winning streak on the go before losing 97-90 at home to Orlando on Saturday.
Milwaukee has yet to clinch a playoff berth, sitting 3.5 games up on ninth-place Miami with five games to go. The Bucks have three tough home games left on the schedule against current playoff teams (Cleveland, Brooklyn, and Boston), plus road tilts against the lowly Knicks and Sixers.
Even if the Bucks squeak into the postseason, a poor finish could find them matching up with the Cavs in the first round instead of the injury-riddled Bulls or Raptors.
Point guard Michael Carter-Williams realizes his squad let an opportunity slip away against Orlando.
“I think we really needed that win, but now we just gotta win one we’re necessarily not supposed to,” said Carter-Williams. ” We’re still in pretty good shape, but we gotta get it together and really be solid come playoffs.”
ATS this season, the Bucks are just 17-20 at home (and 2-5-2 in their last nine), while the Cavs are 5-2 ATS on the road in their last seven. That’s why the play tonight is the Cavs laying the points (-7.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (20090930-6029) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)