Do Underdog Bucks Have the Advantage over Cavs on Monday?
If you’re watching the NIT, CBI, or whatever the heck lesser tournament over the NBA tonight, well … you’re a strange individual.
Golden State visiting San Antonio should have been a smash hit, but almost all of the stars are on the mend. Instead, we’ll break down Milwaukee at Cleveland (-3, 223). The Cavs are back to their losing ways against the spread. Can they turn it around tonight against the Bucks? — Mark Gallant
1. Big Men Are a Big Problem for Cleveland
The Cavaliers have no bigs. Their starting frontcourt on Saturday featured Jeff Green and Ante Zizic. You would think this isn’t a big deal vs. the Bucks, but here’s a stat to give you pause. With John Henson on the court, Giannis Antetokounmpo has a net rating of 9.0 points per 100 possessions. What is it about that combo that works? Whatever it is, it should work well vs. the Cavaliers without any passable frontcourt players.
Also watch out for Khris Middleton vs. Rodney Hood, which should be a great 1-on-1 matchup of scoring 2-guards. — Matt Moore
2. The New-Look Cavs Are Worse Against the Bucks
These squads have played three times this season already, although they all came mid-December or earlier. The new-look Cavs have lost three of their past five, and they’re a very different squad than the one the Bucks faced in 2017. In the first two meetings in which the Cavs won, they rebounded 33.3 and 34.1 percent of their misses; those marks rank in the 84th and 88th percentile of games this season, respectively. In the game they lost, they grabbed just 22.0 percent of their misses. Defensive rebounding is clearly the Bucks’ biggest weakness — they rank 27th in the league in that regard — and, while the early-season Cavs were very flawed, they at least matched up well against Milwaukee. With no Kevin Love, and Green and Larry Nance starting at the 4-5, the only advantage the Cavs have anymore is LeBron being superhuman. Take a look at their offensive rebounding numbers of late …
Woof. If Giannis counters LeBron, the Bucks will have the edge in other areas. — Bryan Mears
3. The Cavs Still Suck Against the Spread
Before the All-Star break, the Cavs were an NBA-worst 18-37-1 ATS (32.7%). Cleveland has continued to struggle down the stretch, going 4-9 ATS since that time. Cleveland is 7-25-1 ATS at home this season, the least-profitable team in the league. The Cavs covered in their last home game but have won back-to-back games against-the-spread in Cleveland only once this year. — John Ewing
4. Injury-Riddled Cavs Create DFS Opportunities
The Cavs have the potential to be really short-handed in today’s contest, which makes them an appealing team to target for DFS purposes. Love, Tristan Thompson, and Cedi Osman are all currently out with injuries, and Hood, Kyle Korver, and Nance are all questionable. The Cavs have leaned heavily on James over their past two contests given their current injury situation, resulting at least 40 minutes of playing time in both. He’s been dominant of late, averaging 1.69 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and that combination of efficiency and volume is a lethal from a fantasy perspective. LeBron is especially appealing on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 99 percent, but he should be a staple of most cash game lineups across the industry if the Cavs are still ailing. — Matt LaMarca
5. The Bucks Struggle Against the East’s Best Teams
The Bucks have struggled against the best teams in the Eastern Conference this season, going 8-16 ATS (33.3%) against East opponents that have a straight-up record above .500. They’re the least-profitable team in the NBA in that regard.
This isn’t an isolated thing, either: Since 2011, Milwaukee is 60-88 ATS (40.5%) against above-.500 Eastern Conference teams; they’re the worst squad against the spread in the NBA by a large margin during that span…
- Bucks: 40.5%
- 76ers: 43.9%
- Warriors: 47.0%
- Timberwolves: 47.1% — Evan Abrams
Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY Sports