We are now in the final month of the NBA regular season, at which point most teams have decided whether they are going for wins or tanking for position in the draft lottery.
The 38-28 Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the teams looking for wins. Thanks to some injuries and general laziness, they have lost four of their last six games. Their defense has been particularly problematic in that stretch. Cleveland is now down to the fourth seed in the East after staying at third for most of the year.
The 19-49 Phoenix Suns will host the Cavaliers today (10 p.m. ET Tuesday). Phoenix is playing for a good spot in the lottery and is one of the worst teams in the NBA. However, the Suns are getting back some key players from injury in time for this game.
It’s pretty obvious which team is the favorite with the USA bookies in Phoenix tonight. But what could possibly change the outcome? We’ll discuss some X-factors for the game and then advise how you should bet with our Cavs vs Phoenix Suns betting predictions and picks.
Who Wins Point Guard Battle?
The matchup at point guard between Elfrid Payton and George Hill is an intriguing one. Hill has the much better reputation around the league as a more solid player. However, Payton has had the better season, making up for his inferior defense compared to Hill with much better statistical production.
Payton is averaging 13.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists on 50.2/34.5/66.0 shooting splits this season. Meanwhile, Hill is at 10.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest with 45.6/42.6/77.7 shooting splits.
Hill needs to step up on offense this game with so many of Cleveland’s players out and LeBron James having to carry a big load. On the other side, Payton must pick up his play on defense. He has regressed on that end of the floor this season and could be exploited by Cleveland in this game if he is not locked in.
Can Cavs Emphasize Transition Defense Despite Lack of Depth?
Overall this season, Cleveland has not been a terrible team in transition defense. However, the Cavs do go through stretches where they get really lazy in that facet of the game and just give up.
Today’s game would not be a good time for the Cavs to have one of those bad effort games. The Suns aren’t good in many areas of the game, but they are a good transition team in offense. Led by the athleticism and shooting of Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, Phoenix ranks fifth in the NBA in fast break points per game (14.2).
When Cleveland allows 11 fast break points or more, it has a 10-17 record. When it allows 10 or fewer fast break points, however, the team is 28-11. The Cavaliers have a lot of injuries and may get more fatigued in this game as a result. Can they still give the required amount of effort to keep the Suns from dominating in transition?
How Will Suns’ Big Guns Look in Their Injury Returns?
Three of the Suns’ most important players, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, are all expected to return from injuries against Cleveland today. Phoenix actually put up a good fight without them against the Hornets on Saturday. Several unheralded guys played more minutes and responded with good performances.
However, things will be different for the Suns with their three most used offensive options back. For the team to win this game, Booker, Warren and Jackson can’t show signs of being banged up for the sake of either end of the floor. Phoenix is already a terrible team on offense and defense, so playing hobbled players would make the squad even worse.
It’s also worth watching how the aforementioned role players who got extra burn against Charlotte will fare now that they have to go back to smaller minute loads. Can they stay efficient without having the rhythm of playing a bigger portion of the game?
Our Preview’s Cavs vs Phoenix Suns Betting Picks & Predictions
Cleveland is obviously a much better team, but the squad is badly banged up right now and will face a young Suns team at home energized by the return of three key players.
Also, the experience the Phoenix role players earned against Charlotte could be huge as they prepare to face a Cavs bench decimated by injuries. So these are the Cavs vs Suns predictions and betting picks for this preview:
- Cleveland should win, but not by much. This preview predicts the Suns to cover the spread of +7pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or Bookmaker.
- Here we have two teams with bad defenses that are also in the top half of pace for the NBA. It would be shocking if one of these teams didn’t crack 100 points in this game. The final score will probably be somewhere around 120 to 115. Bet the over 230pts @ -110 with any of the following sites: 5Dimes, Bookmaker or MyBookie.