All is not well in the Valley of the Kings. And after only two wins in their last eight games, could the Cleveland Cavaliers be headed for a dethronement?
With LeBron James in their midst, there’s little danger that the reigning NBA champions will suddenly fade towards irrelevance. Barring a wave of injuries, they’re still a rock solid bet at 1.30 to win the Eastern Conference once again.
But they’ve slid out to 4.00 to defend their title with the Golden State Warriors closing to 1.70. Fair comment given the concerns which have arisen.
James has called for additional strength in depth with an extra playmaker top of his wish list. This to enhance a roster which already carries the highest payroll in all of basketball.
But if that risks a stand-off between star and front office, it’s on the court where the Cavs problems truly lie. Not since January 3 have they conceded less than 100 points, a 4-7 stretch that has dragged their average down to 105.1 conceded – 17th in the league and a mammoth 6.8 more than last term.
During January, Cleveland have also lost to the likes of Sacramento, New Orleans and Portland and even though Friday’s home clash with the Brooklyn Nets looks a mismatch, it’s gone from gimme to must-win in the blink of an eye.
Brooklyn, losers of 14 of their last 15 and winners only twice on the road so far, are dead last in defence, giving up 114.7 per – something which should provide a tonic for the hosts who are 1.90 on a handicap of -14.5, with going over 228.5 points worth a look.
But the Oklahoma City Thunder are next up at The Q on Sunday and even without Enes Kanter to spark the bench, there’s scope for further glitches with the Cavaliers no longer laughing.
Best bet: Go over 228.5 total points in Cleveland – Brooklyn.
Trade rumours are circulating New York with the Knicks ready to give away Carmelo Anthony for anything remotely attractive. And now the forward has also been snubbed from this year’s All Star Game, what next for Melo?
The speculation is set to be unsettling as the trade deadline rolls closer – something for opposing teams to capitalise on. With the Knicks visiting the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, the hosts will expect to gain a much more emphatic result than their victory by a solitary point earlier this month.