It’s unlikely we’ll see All Star guard Kyrie Irving again this term due to a shoulder problem, leaving Cleveland fans with nothing to look forward to other than their latest trip to the NBA Draft Lottery.
As is traditional at this time of year, all eyes will be looking for signs of teams who are tanking over the closing stretch of the regular season to improve their chances of landing a high pick. Charlotte and Orlando are seemingly in a two-way battle for last place, with the Cavaliers among a nine-strong group behind them.
That figures to cause a few mismatches involving those sides with nothing meaningful to aim for as players are ‘rested’ with spurious injuries over the next few weeks, or – in the case of Irving and Minnesota’s Kevin Love – where there is no benefit to rushing a star back into the fray.
That’s why Cleveland are a massive 13.00 to defeat San Antonio on Saturday, even though the Spurs – the Western Conference leaders – have lost two of their last four with Tony Parker still out. In his absence, his team have still blown out a few opponents and they are a mammoth 27-4 at home.
But the Cavaliers are worth a punt on the handicap of +14, available at 1.91. They lost by a single point when these teams met three weeks ago and they’ve continued to scrap to some close defeats. While their hosts should avoid the upset, it might not be as lopsided as expected, even without Irving’s talents on show.
Sticking with long shots, the bumbling Charlotte Bobcats are a massive 17.50 to win in Boston today, despite pulling off a stunning 100-74 victory over the Celtics just five days ago. That night, Paul Pierce was rested and the Cs fell apart, offering a glimpse into a dark future without their long-serving forward.
But Boston improve their record of wins to 66.7% when they have 2-3 days rest and having allowed their old legs to recuperate since Wednesday, it’s unlikely they’ll be shocked again. Although Charlotte are a tempting -16 on the handicap, back the Celtics to claim their revenge.
Best bet: Take Cleveland on the handicap over San Antonio at 1.91