Los Angeles grinding through problems, too

Los Angeles grinding through problems, too

J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers want to put a head-scratching performance behind them as soon as possible. What better way to do that than by welcoming the Clippers to town for a marquee showdown?

The two heavyweights square off tonight, with an 8 p.m. ET tip at Quicken Loans Arena. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Cleveland odds of -175 to emerge victorious. Doc Rivers’ team, on the other hand, represents a +155 underdog.

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On Tuesday, the Cavs suffered a 118-101 defeat at the hands of Milwaukee. Compounding the embarrassment, Smith wandered off the court to hug Bucks reserve Jason Terry during live action. Cleveland subsequently allowed a wide-open dunk and continued to get pounded.

Mental gaffes aside, Smith is in the midst of a horrendous slump. He’s only shooting 26 percent from the floor since Nov. 3. Things aren’t likely to change vs. Los Angeles, either. The Clips have gradually evolved into one of the best defensive squads in the league, with Chris Paul (2.8 steals per game) and DeAndre Jordan (12.6 rebounds) leading the charge.

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In fact, Jordan just posted a 20-20 effort at Brooklyn. Look for Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, though, to rise to the challenge of denying the star center a plethora of interior touches. A double-digit Cavaliers triumph wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility.

 

THURSDAY NBA FREE PICK: CAVALIERS -4.5

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