In The Thick of Things

The Cleveland Cavaliers remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference standings despite having had to deal with injuries all season. Meanwhile, a relatively healthy roster has done little for the Seattle SuperSonics.

With Anderson Varejao now sidelined, the Cavaliers look to sweep a three-game road trip and their season series with the lowly SuperSonics as the teams meet Thursday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Cleveland -3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 195.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -3 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Cleveland (25-19) won its first game without Varejao - one of its top rebounders - beating Portland 84-83 on Wednesday night on LeBron James' reverse layup with less than a second left.

Varejao, averaging 7.8 points and 8.5 rebounds, sprained his left ankle in the first game of the Cavaliers' current trip, a 98-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The 6-foot-10 Brazilian will miss up to four weeks.

It's the latest setback for Cleveland, which is gaining momentum in the East. The Cavaliers, who have won five straight on the road and 13 of 16 overall, are already without starting guard Sasha Pavlovic for at least six weeks with a left mid-foot sprain.

Two months ago, Cleveland lost James for five games because of a finger injury and lost each of those contests. The Cavs have gone 16-7 since James returned.

Cleveland got a brief scare midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday when James, who finished with 37 points and 14 rebounds, inadvertently collided with Portland guard Sergio Rodriguez. The Cavaliers superstar grimaced and grasped at his left pinkie finger, but appeared fine after a timeout and came through in the clutch yet again.

"We know the game is not over until there are zeros on the clock," James said.

In Cleveland's first matchup with Seattle (10-35), James had 22 points - more than seven below his career average versus the Sonics - as the Cavaliers won 95-79 on Jan. 8.

Cleveland has a good opportunity to end its trip with a win, facing a Seattle team that has the league's worst record despite having had its top players avoid any major injuries. The Cavs have a chance to extend their road winning streak to six games for the first time since a seven-game run from Nov. 21-Dec. 11, 1997.

The Sonics, however, have won three straight home games against the Cavs, and are coming off their most impressive win of the season.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points, including the go-ahead jump shot with 32.6 seconds remaining as Seattle stunned defending NBA champion San Antonio 88-85 on Tuesday night to end a team-record 14-game losing streak.

It was the Sonics' first win since beating Minnesota 109-90 on Dec. 29, and just their second victory against a team with a winning record.

"We can build on this and win a couple more games," Durant said. "Every night we come out and play hard."

Durant, who will likely spend some time matched up against James, leads the Sonics and all NBA rookies with 19.5 points per game. He had 24 and six rebounds in his first game versus Cleveland.

The 6-foot-9 swingman will lead a team of first-year players against the sophomore team in the rookie challenge during All-Star weekend. He'll be joined on the rookie team by Sonics teammate Jeff Green, the fifth overall pick who is averaging 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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