Phoenix at Cleveland Spread, Free Pick & TV Info
I don’t envy the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night as they make their only trip of the season to defending NBA champion Cleveland. That’s because the Cavaliers were embarrassed last time out and probably will take it out on the young Suns, who will be sizable NBA betting underdogs.
Phoenix at Cleveland Spread, Free Pick & TV Info
When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 7 PM ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
TV: NBA League Pass
Stream: NBA TV
Radio: Phoenix / Cleveland
NBA Odds: Cavs favored by TBA
Why Bet on Phoenix?
Phoenix starts a three-game road trip here and comes off a 106-101 home loss to Utah on Monday. Suns guard Eric Bledsoe had 31 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, falling just short of his third career triple-double. Devin Booker, coming off consecutive 39-point games in Mexico City, added 25 for Phoenix. Over his last five, Booker is averaging 30.6 points and 3.0 3-pointers on 54 percent shooting.
Booker’s recent scoring burst didn’t come from nowhere. Suns coach Earl Watson saw it coming a few weeks back when he made a lineup change. Watson inserted forward T.J. Warren into the starting five, moving P.J. Tucker to the bench. A byproduct of the move: Tucker started defending Booker every day in practice, matching up Phoenix’s best perimeter scorer against its best all-around defender.
After Booker’s 15-footer bounced off the front of the rim, Utah’s Gordon Hayward made it 104-101 on two free throws with 13.6 seconds to play. Rudy Gobert blocked Marquese Chriss’ driving layup on Phoenix’s next possession, and Utah’s Joe Johnson sealed it with two from the free throw line with 5.7 seconds remaining.
The Suns played Utah without three rotation guys in center Tyson Chandler (illness), guard Brandon Knight (wrist) and forward Jared Dudley (dizziness). Chandler has at least 15 rebounds in his past five games. It’s not clear if those guys will play here but likely. Alex Len started for Chandler on Monday but had just six points, five rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes.
The Suns rank in the NBA’s top 10 in all four miscellaneous points categories, ranking 2nd with an average of 18.6 fast break points, 5th in with 46.1 points in the paint, 7th with 14.1 second chance points and 2nd with 18.9 points off turnovers. The Suns are averaging 106.0 points per game (11th in the NBA); they last averaged at least this many points in 2009-10 (110.2).
Why Bet on Cleveland?
The Cavaliers had won four straight game against Golden State dating to last season’s Finals but Cleveland was rocked 126-91 on Monday in the conclusion of a six-game road trip. LeBron James had 20 points on 6-of- 18 shooting and eight rebounds and was tangled up on one play with Draymond Green, who was called for a flagrant foul. It looked like LeBron flopped.
Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on an uncharacteristic day for the Cavs when they committed 15 turnovers to 11 assists. Cleveland shot just 35.2 percent (31 for 88) overall. Cavs players headed for the tunnel before the final buzzer even sounded.
Kevin Love played only 15 minutes due to lower back troubles. Love said that he won’t miss any additional time. He said his back tightened up on him at Sunday’s practice and it flared up when he bumped into Zaza Pachulia in the second quarter. Love did not return to the game after halftime, but the Cavs were likely being cautious due to the lopsided score. Love has battled minor back issues over the past several years, missing games a handful of times.
The Cavaliers’ Big 3 of LeBron (6-18), Irving (6-19) and Love (1-6) combined to shoot 13-of- 43 from the field (30.2%), their worst combined field-goal percentage in any regular-season game as teammates. Cleveland gave up a season-high 126 points (including a wild 78 in the first half) as LeBron suffered what tied for the worst regular-season loss of his 14-season career, in terms of scoring margin.
The Cavs were dominated in just about every facet, as Golden State outshot them 50.5 percent to 35.2 percent from the field and 44.1 percent to 26.5 percent from 3, out-rebounded them 58-35 and out-assisted them 37-11.
“What do you want us to do?” Coach Tyronn Lue said after Monday’s game. “I mean, they beat us. They won one game. They won. Yeah, we’re going to shake it off. We got to. We’ve got  more games left.”
The Cavaliers won the first meeting this season in Phoenix earlier this month 120-116. The Suns erased a 22-point deficit but couldn’t overcome the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter. James finished with 28 points while Irving had 27 and Love had 25. Bledsoe finished with game-highs of 31 points and eight assists while Booker scored 28. Chandler added 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Phoenix at Cleveland Free Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers
Rested and back home, the Cavs will win in a rout and cover.