Two teams that won’t be going to the playoffs compete in NBA non-conference action on Thursday night as the Cleveland Cavaliers travel out West to take on the Sacramento Kings. For the Cavaliers, this year couldn’t have gone much worse. It was expected that they would regress after LeBron James bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers. That being said, even the most negative assessment couldn’t have predicted how much they would regress. The Cavaliers have been downright non-competitive in most SU/ATS situational breakdowns. Struggling straight up is one thing but when a team is *expected* to be bad and continues to decline throughout the season and *still* can’t cover pointspreads there’s a problem. Linesmakers can’t price the Cavs accurately because no matter how many points they get they find a way to redefine ‘bad’ game after game. It’s a testament to the ability of the bookmaking community that the 19-59 SU Cavs are 36-40-2 ATS (47.4%).
Cleveland enters this game having lost six straight going 2-4 ATS. Since the first of March, the Cavs are 4-12 SU/8-7-1 ATS. In their last action they played against the Suns at Phoenix and were actually favored by -2 points. Phoenix is one of the teams with a worse record than Cleveland and yet the Cavs lost 122-113. It has to be the height of insult for Cleveland that Phoenix was actually ‘limiting minutes’ for future superstar Devin Booker following a three game run of 50,50 and 48 points. Booker still put up 25 points and 14 assists and since Cleveland stopped playing any semblance of defense for awhile now had Phoenix given him the ‘green light’ he could have put up another 50 point game.
Sacramento has shown considerable improvement this season and with four games remaining they’ve already added 11 wins on to last year’s total. Their play on the road is still a ‘work in progress’ (15-24 SU/20-19 ATS) but they’re starting revive the once dominant Sacramento home court edge. Sacto is 23-16 SU/24-14-1 ATS at the Golden 1 Center and they’ve been particularly successful as home favorites. When laying points on their home floor the Kings are 13-2 SU/10-5 ATS. As a sidebar, they’re also 7-2 SU/ATS as a road favorite for an overall chalk record of 20-4 SU/17-7 ATS. For a young team, the ability to ‘take care of business’ and beat the teams that you’re ‘supposed to beat’ is an extremely positive sign. There is still work to be done on defense–offense is up across the league this season but 9 PPG more this year than last. Then again, they’re playing at a faster tempo and a positive sign is their points per 100 possession–the Kings are one of eight teams that lowered that number from last year (overall, points per 100 possessions increased by 1.8 this season).
Cleveland looks like a team playing out the string. They show a little bit of life when Kevin Love is in the lineup (he’s listed as ‘questionable’ for this game with shoulder soreness) but if the team has any competitive moxie left they’ll be using it to give Golden State their best shot when they head to Oracle Arena for a Friday night game. Win or lose here, Sacramento might be worth a look in their next game against the red hot Jazz in Salt Lake City on Friday despite the ‘2nd of back to back’ spot. For this game, the Kings are the play in what should be a high scoring game. Sacramento’s wins in a home chalk have trended ‘Under’ (3 OV 11 UN 1 push) but in the previous meeting with the Cavs this season the teams combined for 239 in Cleveland. Cavs now Over in 5 straight, 7 of 9 and 9 of 13–a result of minimal effort on the defensive end.