Sunday NBA Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for 76ers vs. Cavaliers: Cleveland’s Struggling Defense Faces Difficult Matchup
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid.
- The 76ers are road favorites on Sunday against the Cavaliers.
- Cleveland has suffered defensively without its two star big men and face a tough challenge against Joel Embiid.
- Jacob McKenna breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
76ers vs. Cavaliers Odds
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Philadelphia 76ers will make the trip to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers in what will be the second game in as many days for both teams.
Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak with a dominant 144-114 win over the Hornets on Saturday afternoon, closing the gap with Boston for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland also won comfortably in its matchup on Saturday against the Knicks, a much-needed victory after losing five of its previous six games.
With only a handful of games left in the season, this is a high-stakes matchup for the purposes of seeding. Can Cleveland grab a win and stay out of the play-in tournament, or will the 76ers get their second win in two days?
Sixers Coming Off Much-Needed Win
Philadelphia recently suffered three straight losses to the Suns, Bucks and Pistons, a stretch of games during which it arguably played its worst basketball of the season.
In that span of time, the 76ers posted an Offensive Rating of just 109.6, which ranked 26th in the NBA. Philly clearly struggled to find a rhythm on that end of the floor, culminating in a field goal percentage of just 44%, which is down from its season average of 46.3%.
Simultaneously, the Sixers’ play on the defensive end of the floor hit a wall and was equally responsible for their struggles. Philly’s season Defensive Rating sits at 109.8, ninth in the NBA, but during their three-game slide that has increased to 116.4.
Taking losses to Phoenix and Milwaukee in relatively competitive games was not worrisome, but scoring 94 points and making just 7-of-26 shots from behind the arc against Detroit made it more apparent the 76ers needed to tighten things up.
Philly did exactly that against Charlotte on Saturday, shooting 61% from the floor overall and 49% from three on its way to a 30-point victory. A fully healthy Sixers squad can clearly cause problems, and it once again has an opportunity to do just that in this one.
Cleveland’s Defense Is Suffering
As previously mentioned, this is the second game of a back-to-back for the Cavaliers, as well, but that isn’t the biggest issue that Cleveland faces.
Jarrett Allen has not played since March 6 and will remain sidelined for this one, and Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Mobley will join him as he nurses an ankle injury.
Both of those guys provide a boost on the offensive end of the floor, but their largest impact this season has come on the defensive end.
Before the injury to Allen, Cleveland had the NBA’s fifth-best Defensive Rating at 108.5. However, in his absence that rating has soared to 117.3, which ranks 22nd in that span. Furthermore, Cleveland’s Defensive Rating has risen even further to 121.4 in the three games that Mobley has been sidelined, further highlighting their difficulties on that end of the floor without arguably their two best defenders.
Interior defense has been hard to come by as of late, which could continue to be an issue against this 76ers team.
Catching the 76ers on a back-to-back would normally level the playing field, but given that the Cavaliers are facing the same scenario and have the injuries to Mobley and Allen, I think Philly will be able to take control of this game.
During Philadelphia’s three game losing streak, the bench struggled to find much of a rhythm, averaging just under 16 points per game, and it cost them in the late stages of the game. However, against Charlotte on Saturday, the 76ers poured in 49 bench points, with 26 of them coming from their main bench rotation.
Even if the Philly bench can’t put up those numbers again, Embiid, Harden and Co. should still be able to get plenty of chances inside against a struggling defense. I like playing the 76ers to 6.5.
Pick: 76ers -5 (-110)