Saturday’s slate is light for a Saturday. There are only three games in total with Sunday being the heavy day this weekend. Saturday’s small, three-game slate gets underway at 7 p.m. ET with the final game tipping off at 9 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Saturday night.
Cavaliers -12 (-110)
This is an enormous line, but the Thunder did not do anything to help their cause by losing at Charlotte by 17 points on Friday night. They trailed the Hornets by 16 points at the end of the first quarter, and they were never able to cut the lead down to single digits. The Cavs last played on Wednesday, and will be well rested and ready to roll the lesser team.
Both teams have been solid against the spread this season, but the Cavs have actual wins (27-19, 31-15 ATS and 15-6 home ATS). The Thunder have a terrible overall record, but they keep games respectable (14-30, 28-16 ATS and 14-8 away ATS). These team played each other last Saturday at Oklahoma City, and Cleveland barely covered the -4.5 point spread. That does not seem to support taking the Cavs by 12, but the Cavs trailed the Thunder by 18 points in the middle of the third quarter and were still able to comeback and cover. This shows that the Thunder are not a good team and the Cavs have a lot of fight. The Cavs shoot poorly from the field, were ice cold beyond the 3-point line and they were out rebounded, but they still covered.
The Cavs have only been double-digit favorites once this season, and they covered against the Magic. Six times they have been favorites of six points or more, and they covered in each of those contests. The Cavs are a streaky team. At one point, they had a streak of 14 covers in a row and at another point, they covered in 11 of 12. Currently, they have covered in four of their last five games.
The Thunder have the worst True Shooting percentage in the NBA (51.5%), and they rank in bottom third in rebounding and turnovers. Their Net Rating is the fourth-worst (-7.8). Everything is against them on Saturday, including what was already mentioned, the Cavs are rested and the Thunder on a road back-to-back, their third game in four nights and the final night of a four game road trip.
Suns -12 (-110)
Over 217.5 (-110)
It’s not fun taking a big favorite, but these are strange times. This Omicron Era is over, but teams are still frequently thin. The Pacers beat the Warriors on Thursday without Domantas Sabonis, but the Warriors did not have Draymond Green and Klay Thompson was still on a minutes limit. Also, the Pacers made 42.9% of their 3-point attempts, while the Warriors shot 21.4% from beyond the arc. Despite the disparity, Golden State only lost by four points in overtime. Sabonis is still out, and the Pacers are not going to nail everything while the Suns — the best team in basketball — miss everything at home.
The Suns have been double-digit favorites twice in the the last two weeks (both games went over). They blew out the Pistons on the road and they got blown out at home by the Heat on Jan. 8. The game against the Heat is concerning, but it can easily be explained. Upsets in the NBA are not very complex. A team plays poorly or another team gets hot beyond the arc. That’s about the extent of the possibilities. That’s how the short-handed Pacers beat the short-handed Warriors, and that’s how the Heat beat the Suns. Miami shot 50% from the 3-point line. The Suns weren’t particularly bad in that game, but it’s hard to win, if your opponent cannot miss. That was an outlier performance that is unlikely to happen again. On the season, the Suns have held their opponents to the second-lowest 3-point percentage in the league (32.6%).
Following the surprising loss to the Heat, the Suns have won five in a row and have covered four in a row (they missed covering all five by barely missing the cover against the Raptors). On their four game ATS streak, the Suns have the best Net Rating in the NBA (+17.0) and their offensive efficiency rating ranks third (121.4). Over that span they have played mostly slower-paced teams and two very good defensive teams, and yet they are still scoring a massive amount of points. The Suns will carry the load, and the Pacers aren’t completely dead offensively without Sabonis, as witnessed in their win at Golden State on Thursday. However, the only thing that the Pacers will be good for is helping this game reach the over in garbage time.
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