New Orleans Hornets (48-21) +2, 190 at Cleveland Cavaliers (40-31), 7 pm Eastern Wednesday
by Zman of Predictem.com
The top team in the West meets the defending champs of the East when the New Orleans Hornets visit the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night.
NBA Sportsbooks list Cleveland as a two-point home favorite for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 190. Also, the Cavs are posted at right around -140 on various Vegas moneylines, with New Orleans getting +125 as road underdogs.
The Hornets have won four straight games after winning at Indiana Tuesday 114-106, shooting 49% from the field and committing just 10 turnovers in the process. The victory kept New Orleans atop both the Southwest Division and the Western Conference, albeit by very small margins. And in the incredibly competitive West, the Hornets are only a game ahead of the fifth-place San Antonio Spurs.
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Cleveland, on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, somehow managed to lose at Milwaukee Saturday 108-98, its fourth loss in its last seven games. So going into Wednesday’s action, the Cavaliers are still 10 games behind first-place Detroit in the Central Division, and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, five games behind third-place Orlando and 3 games ahead of fifth-place Washington.
In the first meeting this season between these two inter-conference foes, New Orleans beat Cleveland 86-76 back on Dec. 29, covering the spread as five-point home chalk. The game also stayed well below its total of 186, thanks to the combined 40% shooting performance of the two teams. Last season, the teams split their two games, with the Cavs winning 97-89 and the Hornets prevailing 95-89. The o/u is 1-1-1 in those most recent three games in this series, with the games averaging just 177 total points.
This season, New Orleans is a very nice 44-25 against the spread, and 21-11 straight up and 20-12 vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, Cleveland is 34-37 ATS this season, and while 24-10 straight up just 14-20 vs. the numbers at home.
Statistically speaking, the Hornets rank 5th in the league this season in point differential at +5.4 per game, while the Cavs, despite being nine games over .500, are getting outscored by .2 points per game.
New Orleans is shooting 46% from the field this season, 39% from 3-point range and 77% from the charity stripe, while Cleveland is shooting 44% from the floor, 36% from beyond the arc and only 72% from the line, which ranks 28th.
Also, the Cavaliers rank 2nd in the league in rebounding at +3.8 per game, the Hornets 8th at +1.4. And both teams are allowing opponents to shoot 46% from the field.
On the injury front, Cleveland forward Ben Wallace (5 pts., 9 rebs. per game this season) missed Saturday’s game with a sore back, and is listed as out for Wednesday’s game.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks New Orleans 4th at 95.9, the Cavs 14th at 90.3. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.5.
The o/u is 33-34 in Hornets games this season, which are averaging 196 total points, while the totals are 34-36 in Cleveland games, which are averaging 194 points.
Zman’s Pick: This is a tough game to pick. Our lean is New Orleans at +2, especially since Ben Wallace is out tonight.