Cleveland Cavaliers (-6.5) at Sacramento Kings
The Cleveland Cavaliers (44-18, 17-12 Away) might have a bit of trouble on their hands. LeBron James and company still sit atop the Eastern Conference, but the Raptors are now only two games back, and the Cavs just fell at home (106-103) to a Memphis team that was missing four starters and only dressed eight players. Cleveland embarks on a four-game Western Conference road trip tonight, starting with a visit to the Sacramento Kings (25-37, 14-16 Home) at Sleep Train Arena (10:00 PM Eastern).
The Cavs’ record isn’t indicative of the potential trouble the team is in. Reports out of Cleveland suggest there is dissension in the ranks; apparently James isn’t entirely happy and may want out next season, while his teammates may not be entirely pleased with him either.
James recently said the team wasn’t close to being playoff-ready, and the setback to Memphis is stark evidence of that. LeBron (28 points, nine rebounds), Kyrie Irving (27 points), and Kevin Love (14 points, 11 rebounds) had decent stat lines at the end of the night, but they also combined for 15 turnovers. Before that loss, the Cavs had been 23-1 at home when scoring 100 points.
Dissension or not, they’re likely to hit triple-digits again tonight. Sacramento is dead-last in the league defensively, surrendering nearly 110 points per game, and have lost six of seven. They’re not completely out of the Western Conference playoff picture, but now sit 5.5 games back of Houston for the final berth and will need a massive turnaround to reach the postseason.
Sacramento saw a big halftime lead evaporate on Monday against New Orleans. The Kings took a 63-50 lead into the break, but were outscored by 16 in the second half and fell 115-112, despite a huge 40-point, 16-rebound effort from Demarcus Cousins.
Cleveland is 13-5 SU in the last 18 in the series. They haven’t been a great bet as a road favorite, but the Kings are 5-14 ATS in their last 19 games, overall. I’m not ready to write off the Cavs just yet. Expect the Eastern Conference leaders to respond with a much better effort.
Pick: Cavs (-6.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped from its original.)