January 21, 2016 (3:32 PM ET)
There are 2 picks tonight.
1) Take Cleveland Cavaliers at -6 spread (buy half a point) against LA Clippers for 3% of bankroll.
We believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers are still angry about their recent blowout loss at the hands of the Golden State Warriors! The Cavaliers are the top team in the Eastern conference but their game against the Warriors has everyone concluding that they aren't in the same class. Their defense was absolutely shredded in that contest, giving up a total of 132 points! It was the worst home loss of LeBron James' storied. Their defense was torched and just as that was an emphasis in their recent victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Irving, James, Love and company still have a lot to prove and a double digit victory over an Eastern Conference bottomfeeder isn't satisfying enough. They realize the magnitude of this contest. This is a prime-time nationally televised game against another quality Western conference team and this particular matchup gives them a nearly immdiate opportunity to atone for their last embarassing home performance and make a statement!
Even though the Cavaliers are leading the East and have managed to win 8 of their last 10 games, the perception that that beatdown left on the masses is fresh in their minds. At the moment, Cleveland is being looked at as a second rate team and not truly elite and that cannot sit well with this ambitious squad! While teams in the NBA generally do not necessarily care about style points or impressing a committee, there are certain situation such as this, where a team simply will want to pour it on and win in blowout fashion! In order to get back in the good graces of the betting public and regain some of their swagger both on and off the court, we believe the Cavs need to win this game by double-digits to prove people wrong and can do so. The ugly loss to Warriors hurt big time and the only way to heal that is to deliver a blowout win of their own! In front a passionate home crowd that was left in disbelief after the last game, they owe them a huge bounce-back performance.
The Cavaliers play much better defense that their opponents and that could be the difference tonight. After putting on an impressive defensive display against Brooklyn where they gave up only 79 points, the Cavs are in a good spot as they are 9-3 ATS (against-the-spread) after allowing 80 or less points! Meanwhile the Clippers have struggled on the defensive side of the ball. LA had a fairly poor showing in their last contest against the Houston Rockets where they gave up over 120 points and 50% shooting from the floor! It's important to note that the Clippers are just 24-44 ATS after allowing 120 or more points in their previous contest. The main reason that the Clippers managed to come away with the victory is simply the fact that they were red-hot from 3 point range. JJ Redick made 9 of 12 from beyond the arc himself and the remainder of the team made a record number of 3 pointers (22 in total) to seal the win! Those types of long range shots cannot be counted on each and every night especially after last playing days ago and changing venues.
While the Cavaliers certainly have the much better defense, they will also hold a big edge at the forward positions with both LeBron and Love playing opposite the likes of Paul Pierce and Luc M'Bah a Moute tonight. Without Blake Griffin in the LA lineup, they are the bigger and more athletic team and that should give them the rebounding edge. They should also be able to do damage in the paint especially since DeAndre Jordan may not be at best after missing 2 games due to pneumonia earlier. He managed to return to the lineup last time out but still might be a bit rusty after missing the previous 2 games.
The Clippers had the last few days off to rest and their most recent game was 3 nights ago. They had to then fly across the country so they themselves could be a bit rusty thanks to an extra couple of days off. They also have a game on deck in NYC tomorrow night so they will be set to travel once again after this contest. If they give up a big lead and the game kinda of gets out of hand, we don't believe Doc Rivers will play his starters their full allotment of minutes and could instead focus on keeping his players fresh for the much more winnable game the following night. Meanwhile the Cavs will be solely focused on tonight and getting a nice win under their belt before what could be another stern test against the Bulls on Saturday.
The Clippers are currently locked into the 4th spot in the West at the moment so win or lose, they are not moving up or down in the current playoff standings. They have a healthy lead over the 5th place team and yet are quite a few games behind the OKC Thunder for that third spot! It is not as urgent for the Clippers win these types of games at the moment. Meanwhile Cavaliers' lead in East is 3 games but with Raptors currently having won 6 in a row, they're now inching ever so close to the Cavaliers. It is not a worrisome point for the Cavs at the moment, but the closer they get the more motivated Cleveland will become. Cleveland holds all of the intangible advantages in this contest and barring another unfortunate late backdoor cover, David Blatt's team should cover this reasonable spread.
2) Take Arkansas at +3 spread against Kentucky for 3% of the bankroll.
The Kentucky Wildcats have long been treated as College Basketball royalty under the tutelage of John Calipari, however this season's Kentucky Wildcats team hasn't lived up to the impossibly high expectations set as they are just 13-4 overall and just 3-2 in SEC play. Where the Wildcats have really struggled this season has been on the road which is where 3 of their 4 losses on the season have occurred, including their most recent road game, a loss against the unranked and very beatable Auburn Tigers team.
A big issue for the Wildcats this season is that they lack the size and intimidation up front as in previous years. The frontcourt trio of Alex Polythress, Marcus Lee, and Skal Labissiere are averaging a combined 13.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest, which surely does not strike fear in the hearts of many opponents. Another issue that Kentucky is currently seeing is that they are still a big named program in the college basketball world, despite not being a physically intimidating or gifted this season. Because of that, they still have a huge target on their backs and will likely receive every team's best when they step out on the court. Every team would love to be able to claim that they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats and that type of motivation is translating well for teams this season.
Despite their somewhat underwhelming 9-8 overall record, the Arkansas Razorbacks actually come into this game ranked 30th in the country in offensive efficiency scoring at a rate of 112 points per 100 possessions on the season. They are also a team that shoots the 3-ball extremely efficiently, knocking down 44.7% of their shots of beyond the arc. As we have seen many times in years past, the teams that have been able to beat Kentucky have been extremely proficient with their outside shooting. Arkansas is a team that likes to push the pace and get inside. They will also kick the ball out to their proficient wingmen for the wide open three. This is a style that has hurt Kentucky in the past and that's what we expect tonight.
Kentucky is somewhat soft in their interior and this season they lack the threat of the outside shot. They are an incredibly beatable team this season and we expect their struggles to continue tonight. Arkansas is a team that will surely like to play up-tempo and keep the Wildcats off balance. They rank 16th in the country in scoring offense and we believe that will be the difference in this contest. Kentucky has struggled on the road and while we expect them to have a much better showing than they did against the Auburn Tigers, they will be fortunate to leave Bud Walton Arena with a victory. We expect the Razorbacks to win this one outright, however even if they fall short, we expect this to be a close contest in which the points could prove to be valuable.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Kentucky is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.
- Arkansas is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Home team is 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
- Kentucky is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Please refer to the important SPS Bankroll System instructions received via email upon joining.