Cleveland Cavaliers v Houston Rockets

There will be a more positive feeling around the Cleveland Cavaliers having won their last game against the Milwaukee Bucks, but there will be more expected from them. Being under 0.500 in November is not a concern for the top teams who want to be playing their best basketball in May, but the Cavaliers have had some big questions to answer with the new players arriving yet to have the kind of impact that was expected of them.

After beating the Milwaukee Bucks a couple of nights ago in another high-scoring game, the Cleveland Cavaliers still have some real work to do on the Defensive side of the court. Now they are facing the Houston Rockets who have won eight of their opening eleven games and have continued to produce strong numbers Offensively even without Chris Paul.

Paul is expected back sooner rather than later, but for now, James Harden will look to continue putting the team on his back after a huge performance in the win over Utah Jazz. That has helped the Rockets to three straight wins and Houston have scored at least 119 points in each of those wins which will not be offering a lot of encouragement for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It looks like a game where both Houston and Cleveland should have plenty of success offensively and that should mean another fun game for the fans with a lot of points being scored. Neither team has really shown they can knuckle down completely on the defensive side of the court, although at the moment it is the Rockets who have made a few more plays.

The Rockets have the edge when it comes to the boards and their superior shooting from the three-point range could be a key. That is still an area in which Cleveland has struggled to work out when it comes to defending the three-point shot and Harden and Eric Gordon could be part of a barrage of threes in this one.

One of the other issues Cleveland have had is their poor starts and making a poor one in Houston could be very tough to recover from. The Rockets are 10-2 against the spread in their last twelve home games against Cleveland and Houston have also covered in their last five games when having at least three days rest between games.

I have to respect the fact that the Cavaliers have covered in both games as an underdog this season and both of those came on the road. However, there is still work to be done here and Houston have the Offensive power to highlight that and I will be looking for the Rockets to cover this number too.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Houston Rockets -5 at 1.91

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

It has been clear in recent years with the emergence of the ‘super team’ in the NBA that it can take top players time to really understand their place on the court with one another. That has to be part of the reason the Oklahoma City Thunder have had a difficult start to the new season as they are trying to gel not one, but two new big-name players into their starting line up.

Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook are finding a way to get their shots, but this is all a learning curve for the three players as they look to get on the same page. None of the three are worrying about a losing record at this moment in time, but they do recognize the work that needs to be done to ensure the Thunder are successful and capable of challenging the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.

Three losses in a row and all as the favorite, in some cases a big favorite, makes it hard to see why the Thunder are being favored to win here in Denver. The Denver Nuggets have always had a strong home advantage thanks to playing in the altitude they do, and they have won three of their last four games which means they should be a confident team going into the game.

A few problems in Defensive situations in recent games, despite the winning, has to be a concern for the Denver Nuggets and certainly gives the Oklahoma City Thunder a chance of the win on the road. However, it should also be noted that Denver has been much better Offensively than the Thunder and it will come down to which team can impose their style on the other.

The rebounding battles should be a lot of fun to watch with both teams capable of dominating the boards when they get going while both teams try plenty of three-pointers which could lead to a high scoring game. My problem with that is that neither team has shown the efficiency from that range that they would have liked and I am going to go against the trend and look for the total points line to fail to be surpassed.

The Thunder might not be winning games, but they have had more problems Offensively than Defensively. In fact, they’ve been one of the better Defensive teams with the speed of Westbrook going with the athleticism of George and they may look to their Defensive plays to spark what has been a struggled Offense.

Both teams tend to be rated quite highly when it comes to the Offensive side of the court and these struggles have seen them go a combined 6-15 in the over/under total. The Thunder are 1-5 over/under so far this season in their road games and the under is 14-3 in the last seventeen games Oklahoma City have played with just a day of rest between games.

Western Conference games tend to have high total points lines and Denver have seen the under go 7-1 in the last eight against opponents from the West. With the Thunder just having some struggles Offensively and playing well enough Defensively, I will back the total points here.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Denver Nuggets vs Oklahoma City Thunder Under 215.5 Total Points at 1.75

By @DavAulak

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