New Jersey Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick

New Jersey Nets (8-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (9-9), 7 pm Eastern Tuesday, NBA TV
by Zman of

A couple of struggling teams that met in the playoffs last season meet for the first time this season when the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Jersey Nets go at it Tuesday night in C-Town.

NBA Sportsbooks have Cleveland posted as a four-point home favorite for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 189. Also, the Cavaliers are listed at around -175 on various Vegas moneylines, with New Jersey getting +160 as road underdogs.

Cleveland beat the Nets in six games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season, and took two of three games from Jersey during the regular season. But while the Cavs were winning six of nine games vs. the Nets last season, New Jersey covered the spread in five of those nine games. Also, the o/u went 3-6 in those nine games, which averaged 178 points per. But if we eliminate the first game these two teams played last season, a 113-111 Nets win, the last eight meetings between these two teams have averaged just 172 total points.

Also, Cleveland outrebounded New Jersey in seven of those nine meetings last season.

The Nets have been streaky so far this season, winning three straight games, then losing six in a row, then winning three in a row again. Jersey has since lost two of its last three games after falling at Detroit Sunday 118-95.

The Cavs have lost three straight after losing at Boston Sunday 80-70, and have averaged just 75 points over those last three games. Not coincidentally, Cleveland has been without the great LeBron James for those last three games after he suffered a bad finger injury last week. And James is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game.

The Nets are in third place in the Atlantic Division, 6 games back of the division-leading Celtics, while the Cavs are tied for second place in the Central, three games back of first-place Detroit.

New Jersey is 6-10 against the spread so far this season, but 4-3 both straight up and ATS on the road.

Cleveland is 8-10 vs. the numbers this season, and 4-3 SU but 2-5 against the spread at home.

Neither of these teams is shooting the ball very well this season. The Nets are shooting 42% from the floor as a team, 31% from 3-point range and 75% from the free-throw line, while the Cavaliers are shooting 44% from the field, 36% from long range and 70% from the line.

Those numbers help explain how Cleveland is getting outscored on average this season by 3.6 points per game, while New Jersey is getting outscored by 7.2 points per game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks the Nets 24th at 84.8, the Cavs 14th at 91.5.

The o/u is 8-9 in New Jersey games this season, which are averaging 187 points per, while the totals are 10-8 in Cleveland games, which are averaging 199 points.

Zman’s Pick: Nets at a pick’em.