Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers – Quicken Loans Arena at 20:40 live on BT Sport 2
It seems a bit of a shame that for the Sunday night BT Sport NBA game, we are left with a mismatch of potentially epic proportions as the won 1, lost 27 Philly 76ers limp into Cleveland to face LeBron and the resurgent Cavaliers in Cleveland.
I’ve feature both of these teams a handful of times so far this season and to give the 76ers their due, although they have been bad, rookie Jahlil Okafor has kept them competitive in games where they had no right to be close. Okafor has now put up 20 point games in 12 occasions so far in 2015/16, which is a great effort playing for a team that has won only a single game all season long. To give those numbers some significance, Okafor is now the first centre to score at least 465 points through his first 26 games since Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O Neal in 92-93. Superstardom surely looms.
As for the Cavaliers, they can be thankful for a return from Kyle Irvine who broke his kneecap during the NBA finals back in June. Although unlikely to start, it is likely we will see Irving back in bench rotation as the Cavs work towards getting their perfect starting 5 ready for their inevitable march to the playoffs.
Cleveland are very strong at home. 11-1 at home so far this season, with a run that stretches back to 31-2 in regular season play at the Q, but they don’t always make it easy for themselves. At Oklahoma on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers rallied from 12 points down to storm back and pip the Thunder in the 4th quarter. Rather remarkably, this is now the seventh time so far this season that the Cavs have rallied from 12 points or more down to get the win.
With a spread for the game set at -16.5, I have some reservations about steaming into the Cavs. First up, due to the late finishing style that the Cavs have adopted, they have been bad at seeing off teams that are inferior on paper. As a 10 point or stronger favourite so far this season, the Cavs have covered the spread in only a single game, extend that to -7.5 favourite or better that, it only adds another single victory.
Secondly in the two other matchups so far this season, the 76ers have stayed close. Victories by 6 and 7 points so far in 2015/16 for the Cavs translate to the 76ers being 2-0 against the spread for the season.
Finally, the Cavs have a busy few days coming up. Next week they start a run that sees them playing 5 games in 7 days including games on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The Cavs know all they have to do to win on Sunday night is turn up, but with a tough schedule looming, expect rotation from the bench.
All things considered, you have to be with the 76ers to stay within 16 points here.
Hanidcap Betting Recommendation: Philly 76ers +16.5 pts at 2.00
Prices correct at time of writing.
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