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NBA Preview: 11th December

WE’RE ready for another chaotic day in the NBA as we prepare for a busy Saturday slate to kick off our weekend.

Here’s a look at the best from our expert analyst;

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Minnesota T’wolves

THE Cleveland Cavaliers head to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves as look to continue an impressive run of form over the past fortnight.

During this seven game stretch the Cavs own a +13.8 point differential, rate as the 8th best offence and 2nd in defensive metrics.

Rookie Evan Mobley has been very impressive and his minutes beside rim protector Jarrett Allen have been extremely effective, denying opponents easy baskets and almost erasing attempts in the paint.

This type of elite rim protection allows Cleveland to protect the perimeter with confidence and provide tighter on-ball defence.  The Cavaliers have a top-10 rated perimeter defence and match up incredibly well with Minnesota at both ends of the floor.

The Timberwolves shot frequency is very reliant on inside-outside scoring, with most of their shots coming in the paint or beyond the arc.  Cleveland have the tools to run the Wolves off the three point line and force them inside, which leaves Minnesota to try and penetrate a very strong paint defence or to settle for low-percentage midrange jumpers.

The Cavs big men have the tools and ability to control the boards and force half court sets, an area where the Wolves have struggled and the Cleveland defence comes into its own.

My model has Cleveland winning by around five-points, and with D’Angelo Russell looking doubtful I feel more than comfortable taking the road team in this spot.

Our best bet: Cleveland Cavaliers win $1.81 at PlayUp

Sacramento Kings @ Charlotte Hornets

Sacramento heads to Charlotte and take on the hottest offensive side in the league. These two high powered offences provide very little in the way of true defensive resistance, which naturally sets up for a high-scoring affair even with the Hornets’ COVID cluster.

Both these teams rate as top-10 teams in terms of pace of play, which means we should expect plenty of possessions and lots of transition basketball.

Despite missing the better part of their rotations right now James Barrego’s team continue to impress, but it has come at the expense of an already frail defence. Over the past two weeks, the team owns the second best offence in the league while also carrying the worst defence in the league.

While the offensive regression for the Hornets is almost inevitable they do still have the chance to stay hot against a team whose defence is equally suspect.

The Kings come into this one riding a three-game win streak and the team’s attempts at remoulding its identity under Alvin Gentry is slowly coming to the fore. Their best basketball in recent times was deploying a run-and-gun approach where they would attack early in the possession to take advantage of defence’s that weren’t set.

Seeing their pace being the climb indicates we may get a return to that style of play and the eye test certainly seems to be in alignment with that thought. If they can mirror that approach here we’re going to have ourselves a super fun game of basketball.

While this is a large total to clear, my model has this game rated at 235 points so we are getting a nice little edge on what should be a true shootout.

Our best bet: Over 231.5 points $1.90 at PlayUp



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