Which way should we lean with our NBA picks when facing a 13 point spread as the Miami Heat host the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight. Will King James lead an assault on his former team, or can the Cavs' keep it close?
The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-13) come into the American Airlines Arena on the recovery road with their their new star top draft pick Kyrie Irving as they face their old star, in the great Lebron James of the Miami Heat (18-6).
Tip-off is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 pm ET as the Cavaliers are coming off of a big victory over Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks and are looking to make it two successive wins against top notch opponents.
Sportsbooks opened their NBA odds boards with the Heat as a heavy 13 point favorite with a total of 197.5. While the total can be found as high as 198, the numbers have held firm at most sports betting shops.
Can Kyrie Irving and the Cavs come into South Beach and pull off the upset against the Big 3?Welcome to Cleveland!
In the Cavaliers last game, Kyrie Irving
saved his best for last and made a layup with 15.8 seconds left to give Cleveland the victory over the Dallas Mavericks. It was the Cavs 1st victory over a .500 team this year. Irving finished the game with 20 points and 7 assists.
After the game, Irving was brought back on the court to give a post game interview. Over the loudspeakers in the arena the first thing he heard was a thunderous "Welcome to Cleveland".
Let's face it, we all thought that the 2011 NBA Draft Class lacked star power and that Kyrie Irving was a very weak number one overall pick. He was, in fact, a freshman who sat for most of his only college season due to an injury. His limited experience and age left us to wonder if Kyrie should have hung out at Duke a little longer.
The 19 year old Irving is begining to prove everyone wrong, and now he seems destined to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. In his last 5 games, Irving has averaged 22.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds. It's conceivable that this kid can play another 15-20 years and could even be the future face of the NBA. Look for Irving to play well here and not disappoint Cavaliers management as they have a personal and public vendetta against LeBron James.
A legitimate big man
Anderson Varejao is slowly turning into be one of the better centers in the league. In what has been his best season to date, he is averaging a double-double with 10.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Varejao is never going to be a huge scorer, but he hustles and brings veteran leadership as he's played on some very good Cavaliers teams. Expect Varejao to hold his own in his matchup against Chris Bosh.
No need for panic
The Miami Heat rely heavily on their 3 stars to come up with most of their offensive production. Up until this point, Wade, James, and Bosh haven't disappointed, as the three headed monster in South Beach remains a favorite for the NBA Title.
However, Chris Bosh has struggled in his last 4 games. Bosh is averaging just 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds on 17 of 46 shooting from the field. With this season's altered schedule, the quick turn around between games puts its toll on players, and slumps are to be expected. Anderson Varejao will prove to be a tough matchup, and I do not expect Bosh to have a breakout game here.
I've always pointed to the lack of depth on the Miami Heat, but a few surprises like rookie Norris Cole, guard Mario Chalmers have stepped up their game and given Miami some much needed help from the bench. Although Chalmers averages 11.3 points per game, he has only scored in single digits in a handful of games this season. He is definitely adding something to this team that they lacked last season.
Chalmers doesn't take a lot of shots, but he has been very efficient lately. In his last 4 games, Chalmers is averaging 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He hasn't taken more than 10 shots in any of these games but has made them count, as he's shot 18 for 31 from the field and a red hot 13 of 21 from beyond the arc. This is a player that's always had ability but needed time to gel with the new additions to the team over the last few years.
Key head to head trends
Cleveland is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Miami
Cleveland is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings vs. the Heat overall
Outcome of the game
The NBA betting lines makers have set a high spread, and justifiably so. Although I don't like the look of the trends, I'm siding with Miami here. Whenever Lebron James plays the Cavaliers, he feels that he has something to prove. Can LeBron silence his biggest critics in Cleveland tonight by covering the 13 point spread?
NBA Pick: Heat -13