After our eight-game winning streak ended on Thursday, I was confident it wouldn’t be too long before we’d be back in the win column. It was only a short wait as we successfully cashed an under ticket in Friday’s Suns-Warriors game. We took the day off on Saturday due to technical difficulties, but we’re back with a play on Sunday despite a short card that features only four games.
Let’s head to Cleveland and take a look at the matchup.
The Cleveland Cavaliers emerged as one of the surprises thus far this season. After winning only 22 games last season, Cleveland’s already won half as many games as it currently occupies the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 13-10 record. Cleveland’s gotten a ton of attention, not just around the league but also among bettors when you consider its league-best 16-5-2 ATS (76.2%) mark. While the Cavaliers might’ve surprised some teams, one team I suspect they’ll struggle to surprise is the Utah Jazz. Utah’s had plenty of success against Cleveland of late, as evidenced by its 5-0-1 ATS in the last six meetings as the visiting team. Furthermore, Utah’s also 16-4-3 ATS overall in the previous 23 meetings.
But there’s something that makes this matchup particularly difficult for Cleveland, and it has to do with Utah’s perimeter shooting.
This handicap is relatively straightforward when you think about it. Utah leads the league with 15.4 three-point field goals per game. And get this, over its last three games, that number’s up 22 three-pointers per game. In contrast, Cleveland ranks 19th with 11.7 three-pointers per game.
Both teams are ranked in the top three in defending against the three-point shot as Utah is second in allowing 10.6 per game while Cleveland is third in allowing 10.7 per game. Even if both defenses cancel one another out, the net-net still favors the Jazz as I don’t see where Cleveland can make up the deficit on the scoreboard. This is a big reason why Utah’s been the dominant team in this series, and it appears to be something the public is overlooking.
Utah opened as a six-point favorite in this matchup, but that number’s now down to 4.5. I’m afraid I have to disagree with the move, so I’m going lay the points and back the Jazz to get the cover on the road.
Pick: Jazz -4.5