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NBA Preview: 8th January

IT’S another busy Saturday coming up in the NBA and we’re giving you a head start on the best early looks for punters.

Here’s a look at the best value on offer;

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Portland Trail Blazers 

The Cleveland Cavaliers look to bounce back to winning ways when they travel to Portland to take on the Blazers.

This marks the first of six game road trip for the Cavs, with some very winnable games on deck as they continue to push for a playoff spot in the East.

Cleveland was dealt a blow with Ricky Rubio sidelined for the rest of the season, adding to their backcourt depth deficiencies following the season-ending injury to Colin Sexton. On a positive note, their young core has been extremely impressive and having 2013 Kevin Love come off the bench has afforded them some much needed scoring depth.  

Portland are now nine-games below .500 and have lost five of their last six. Their effort on both ends of the court has been a massive concern regardless of their player availability – most notably on defence.  

Portland is allowing opponents to score at ease from nearly every zone on the floor. With Larry Nance Jr now joining their long list of unavailable players the Blazers don’t have the size to combat the three big lineup of Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen.  

I fully expect the Cavs to hold a huge rebounding advantage in this one, which will give them every opportunity to create extra possessions. With no Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum either their scoring ability and facilitation is also at an all-time low resulting in one out shot creation, which isn’t ideal when your trying to break down a sturdy defence.  

Cleveland rate as top-5 defensive unit on the season’s far and their elite rim protection is a huge advantage against a Blazers team that ranks in the top-5 this season in field goal frequency at the rim.

Although the Cavs offence has regressed from the insane highs we saw through early stretches in the season, they shouldn’t have any concerns scoring on what has been a woeful Portland defence.

The Blazers rank dead last in the league in opponent effective field goal percentage and allow opponents to score efficiently from three-point range and at the rim.    

Cleveland score well from deep, enough to make opponents respect their shots, and if they get going early in this one it will allow them to operate with great floor spacing and attack opponents inside-out.

I make this line Cavs -7.0 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the line close close to this number, with the Cavs comfortably winning by dobule-digits.

Our best bet: Cleveland Cavaliers -4.5


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