Two NBA teams who couldn’t be on more opposite trajectories than one another face off Monday when the Cleveland Cavaliers (35-16) host the Philadelphia 76ers (31-21).
While those records suggest a competitive affair, oddsmakers across the best NBA betting sites see otherwise by favoring Cleveland by 9.5 points. I agree with their assessment, as I have the Cavaliers covering -9.5 points on Caesars Sportsbook (-110).
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76ers vs Cavaliers prediction: Odds
76ers vs Cavaliers prediction: Analysis
(Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Philadelphia, Bally Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass)
Although the Cavaliers are my pick to cover, the 76ers are who I need to start with. Philadelphia is 2-8 in their last ten games as the absence of Joel Embiid continues looming large. Matters weren’t helped by not trading for a big man before the deadline.
In their last ten games, their only two wins were against bad opponents. They lost four home games to good playoff-caliber teams and four road games to playoff-caliber teams in consecutive streaks. Of those eight losses, only two finished within ten points.
Tyrese Maxey’s ability to bear the weight of carrying an offense has been tested to mixed results. His efficiency has significantly dipped and he struggled mightily to score against the Warriors and Mavericks’ unspectacular defenses.
De’Anthony Melton, Nicolas Batum, and Kyle Lowry all remain out for this game. Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre Jr. need to play better. Buddy Hield is the x-factor for this team with six assists and over 20 points in his first two games with the team.
The Cavaliers were dealing with the injury bug for the early portion of the season. On December 14th they were 12-12, but they’ve gone 24-4 since. Since January 3rd, Cleveland has just one loss to their name against the Bucks.
Donovan Mitchell was involved in trade rumors all year, but there’s no doubt he’s the Cavaliers’ best player. He’s been their leading scorer in 13 of the last 18 games while putting up the fifth most points per game in the NBA.
The return of Darius Garland came at a great time, as he’s been a key ball distributor (5.8 assists per game in his last six outings). His scoring isn’t where it was before he got injured, but they don’t need that from him in this game.
Where the Cavaliers will most likely dominate most is down low with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen against the depleted 76ers’ frontcourt. The two of them gobble up over 15.5 points and ten rebounds per game each.
76ers vs Cavaliers prediction: Pick
Rebounding and defense are two edges the Cavaliers have over the 76ers that aren’t even close. The Cavaliers are the NBA’s second best team according to defensive rating and have a better rebounding percentage on the year.
Without Embiid, the likes of Paul Reed and Tobias Harris will struggle to find boards against the towers Cleveland has controlling the paint. It’ll also be incredibly tough to score in the paint against Mobley and Allen.
Maxey will be glued in on as the man the Cavaliers need to stop. I like Maxey’s game, but I’m not confident in him being able to be dominant enough to ultimately keep this game from finishing within ten points in hostile territory.
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