Marquee matchup on tap in Buckeye State

Marquee matchup on tap in Cleveland

There’s no disputing that the Cavaliers flunked Monday’s test vs. the Western Conference-leading Warriors. But how will Tyronn Lue’s troops fare against the class of the Southwest Division?

Cleveland welcomes the Spurs to town this evening, with an 8:30 p.m. ET tip at Quicken Loans Arena. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives LeBron James & Co. odds of -165 to take care of business at home. Conversely, the visitors represent +145 underdogs.

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Two nights after suffering a 35-point loss to Golden State, the Cavs did manage to wallop Phoenix. James rebounded from a 6-of-18 shooting performance in Oakland to record 21 points and dish out 15 assists in the 118-103 triumph. James Jones filled in ably for the injured Kevin Love (back), too, spacing the floor and burning the Suns with four treys.

San Antonio, however, won’t allow the 36-year-old gunner to roam free. Gregg Popovich’s troops allow just 98.5 points per game. They’ve also captured 11 of the last 13 meetings with Cleveland.

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Still, Pau Gasol’s absence should cause a bit of trepidation for the Spurs here. The six-time All-Star will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured bone in his non-shooting hand. While David Lee’s an adequate replacement, he might have trouble keeping Tristan Thompson off the offensive glass. In any event, bank on a gritty, defensive-oriented affair.

SATURDAY NBA FREE PICK: SPURS/CAVALIERS UNDER 212 POINTS

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