The NBA takes center stage with a pair of nationally televised games on Thursday night. Two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference face off when Cleveland visits Miami. Meanwhile, the defending World Champion Spurs visit a young, but talented Golden State squad.
Below is a look at both TNT matchups this evening.
CLEVELAND at MIAMI (-7, 198) (TNT)
The Cavaliers have been a very streaky team this season, both good and bad. They started the year 9-2 ATS and then went just 1-8 ATS. That was followed by an 8-1 ATS run and then a recent 2-6 ATS slide. The Cavaliers are once again heating up as they entered last night on a 6-0 SU (5-0-1 ATS) run. Cleveland extended their straight-up win streak to seven games, but finally failed to get the pointspread cover by a single point, winning 91-85 as a 7-point home favorite.
LeBron James led the way with a triple-double as he tallied 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists versus the Nets. The win improved Cleveland’s home record to 17-5 SU this season, but the Cavaliers have been weaker on the road, going just 10-12 SU. Cleveland has also struggled against superior teams with a 4-7 ATS underdog mark, compared to a 21-10 ATS record as a pointspread favorite. However, Cleveland has gone 4-2 ATS in their past six underdog roles.
Miami was embarrassed in the first head-to-head meeting on December 15th when Cleveland won 115-107 as a 1 ½-point home favorite. Cleveland dominated the game more than the final eight point margin would seem to indicate as the Cavaliers held a 20-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Miami enters this game off three straight wins, including a 118-114 home victory over the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday in which the Heat barely failed to cover as a 4 ½-point favorite. Overall, Miami is 9-3 SU (7-5 ATS) during their past twelve games.
Star guard Dwyane Wade continues to battle an ankle injury and missed the Heat’s 91-85 win at Charlotte on Saturday night. Wade has played well in the past two games, scoring 32 and 28 points, but point guard depth is a concern as backup Jason Williams remains out with a broken finger.
SAN ANTONIO (-7) at GOLDEN STATE (TNT)
Golden State played their third straight game last night without their leading scorer Jason Richardson who is battling a sore back. Richardson is once again questionable tonight and leads the Warriors in scoring (22.8 ppg) and is second in assists (2.8 apg), steals (1.4 spg), and is third in rebounding (5.9 rpg).
Golden State lost at Seattle 111-107, but point guard Baron Davis played excellent and led the way with 35 points and nine assists. The Warriors held a 62-56 halftime lead, but were outscored 29-9 in the third quarter and trailed by 14 points entering the final period.
Golden State had actually outplayed their previous two opponents without Richardson as the Warriors beat Portland 98-83 on Saturday which followed a 106-105 overtime loss against the Lakers the previous night. Golden State led the Lakers by seven points entering the fourth quarter. Overall, the Warriors have been playing better than their recent straight-up record would seem to indicate as Golden State has led entering the fourth quarter in seven of their past nine games.
San Antonio has won and covered five games in a row and overall the defending World Champs are 36-10 SU this season and 15-7 SU on the road. Despite the solid win/loss percentage, the oddsmakers have been overpricing the Spurs as evident by the team’s mediocre 22-23 ATS mark.
The Spurs must now play their third road game in just four nights and must travel without rest after an 86-82 win at Portland. San Antonio is short-handed as veteran backups Nick Van Excel (16 minutes per game) and Robert Horry (19 minutes per game) are both questionable with injuries and did not play last night.
The Spurs dominated the first meeting at Golden State on November 23rd. San Antonio led 66-36 at halftime and outshot the Warriors 55 to 38 percent from the field.
STEVE MERRIL is a professional sports handicapper and a documented member of The Professional Handicappers League. Get his Premium plays here.