The Cleveland Cavaliers suffer through slumps just like every other team but look head and shoulders above every other team in the Eastern Conference when they manage to put it all together. The Cavaliers will try to show off their best form when they kick off a stretch with six of seven on the road by visiting the slumping Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
Cleveland dropped five of seven to begin March before turning it on and blasting the Detroit Pistons 128-96 on Tuesday, which it followed with a gritty 91-83 triumph over the Utah Jazz on Thursday as Kevin Love returned to the lineup and the team avoided serious injuries to two other players.
“(I’m) happy to be back, especially to get one in front of our home crowd before we go on a four-game road trip,” Love, who missed the previous 13 games with a knee injury, told reporters. “So it was good. … It was either going to be this weekend or tonight, I think once I saw how I was progressing and didn’t have any hiccups along the way, that tonight just felt right and we decided it was in front of our home crowd (that I would come back). It felt good.”
The Clippers are chasing the Jazz for the No. 4 spot in the West but failed to take advantage of Utah’s loss to Cleveland on Thursday by falling at Denver 129-114 for their third straight loss. Los Angeles remained three games behind the Jazz and is now looking over its shoulder at the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lurk a half-game back.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Clippers opened as 2-point home favorites and have been bet up to -2.5. The total opened 219.5 and action on the Under has moved number to 218.5 points.
INJURY REPORT: Cleveland – D. Williams (Probable, Quad), K.Irving (Probable, Knee), I. Shumpert (Questionable, Shoulder), K. Korver (Doubtful, Foot).
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “The Clippers are 1-5 ATS against foes seeking same season revenge from a loss of 19 or more points this season. With the Cavs back on track and looking to avenge a 113-94 home loss suffered against the Clippers earlier this season, we recommend a play on Cleveland.” — Covers Expert Marc Lawrence.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (45-22, 31-33-3 ATS): Cleveland lost point guard Kyrie Irving (knee) and swingman Iman Shumpert (shoulder) in Thursday’s win, but neither injury is considered serious and both players are day-to-day. “Right now we’re just having to mix and match and try to figure it out,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told reporters. “With Kyrie and Shump not being serious, (Love) working his way back and (Kyle) Korver being close, these last 12-13 games we can finally start figuring out our rotation and who’s going to play, who’s going to play with who. I think that will make things a lot better. I’m just excited about that.” Superstar forward LeBron James, who recorded a triple-double in four of his first seven games this month, picked up the slack on Thursday with 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (40-29, 33-36-0 ATS): Los Angeles did not have its full squad available on Thursday, either, as the team elected to keep center DeAndre Jordan and power forward Blake Griffin home to rest. “I think it can help us recovery-wise,” Jordan told the L.A Daily News. “I know for myself and – I think I can speak for Blake, too – we want to be out there every game that we’re healthy. We want to be out there helping our team getting better as a unit and just being able to get better as a whole.” Both players will be available on Saturday as the Clippers kick off a closing stretch that includes nine of the final 13 games at home.
* Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in Los Angeles.
* Clippers are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
* Under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 62 percent of spread bets are on Cleveland while 52 percent of total bets are on the Under.