Cavs look for big evening from supporting cast
J.R. Smith is only just beginning to work himself back into the Cavaliers’ rotation after a lengthy absence. Considering the team’s taxing weekend schedule, however, coach Tyronn Lue may lean rather heavily on the veteran gunner tonight.
Cleveland pays a visit to Houston at 9 p.m. ET in a battle of high-octane offenses. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives James Harden & Co. odds of -290 to emerge victorious. The Cavs, on the other hand, enter Toyota Center as +245 underdogs.
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Yesterday, the defending NBA champions withstood a strong challenge from upstart Orlando to secure a 116-104 win. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving logged even more minutes than usual, with the former collecting his ninth triple-double (24 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds) of the season. Needless to say, bench help will be of paramount importance against a group that gets up and down the floor at a dizzying pace.
Enter Smith, whose mid-December thumb fracture cost the New Jersey native 36 games. He barely made an impression in last week’s 106-101 loss to Detroit before reaching double figures at Orlando. Houston figures to provide an appetizing matchup, though, insofar as Mike D’Antoni’s club allows opponents to convert an average of 9.9 treys per tilt.
It’s not as if the Rockets are playing at an optimal level right now, either. With a 3-3 record since Feb. 27, that No. 3 seed in the Western Conference is by no means locked up. Don’t take the bait on such a lofty scoring forecast here.
SUNDAY NBA FREE PICK: CAVALIERS/ROCKETS UNDER 232 POINTS