While Cavs don’t gel, East contenders step up

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Although it was expected to take some time for the new look Cleveland Cavaliers to gel, it seems to be taking even longer for LeBron James and Kevin Love, the two major additions to the roster, to develop consistent chemistry with Kyrie Irving and the other holdovers.

The latest example of this surfaced last Sunday when the Cavs were embarrassed on their home court, losing to lowly Detroit 103-80. The loss dropped Cleveland’s record to a still respectable 18-12, good enough to currently be fifth best in the East. But not good enough to prevent James from expressing his frustration by saying “We’re not a very good team.”

Questions are being asked about whether or not first season coach David Blatt, despite his excellent credentials as an international coach, was the right choice to mold a cast of talented players into a cohesive, championship contending unit.

Meanwhile the top team in the East remains Toronto. At 24-7 the Raptors are off back to back road wins at the L A Clippers and Denver over the weekend. Both Atlanta (22-8) and Washington (21-8) continue to play surprisingly well.

And the team expected to offer the greatest competition to Cleveland, Division rival Chicago, has hit its stride and is 21-9 two months into the season.

In the West Golden State has cooled down a bit but even after splitting its last 6 games still has the NBA’s best record, 24-5. Portland is second best at 25-7 and 8 Western teams have winning records with a ninth, New Orleans, at .500.

Contrast that to the East where only the five teams noted above have winning records. New Orleans’ 15-15 record would have them seeded sixth in the East.

But 3 of the 4 best point spread records are held by Eastern Conference teams, topped by improved Milwaukee. The Bucks start the week 15-16 and have been around .500 all season have rewarded their backers at the betting windows with their 21-10 ATS record.

Atlanta (19-11) and Toronto (19-12) are also among the point spread leaders as is Portland (20-12). Rounding out the top five is Golden State which despite the lofty 25-4 SU record has still been a solid 18-10-1 ATS.

At the bottom of the ATS standings is Detroit (10-20 ATS) with Minnesota (10-19), Denver (11-19-1) and the New York Knicks (12-20-1). One other team near the bottom is one of the teams expected to be a title contender. Off to a solid 20-11 SU start the Los Angeles Clippers have been early season money burners to the tune of 12-19 ATS.

And the team cited at the beginning of this column, Cleveland, is just 12-18 ATS.

Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.

Toronto at Golden State (Fri.): The best in the East meets the best of the West. Both teams last played on Tuesday. Toronto is in the fifth game of a six game road trip and the Warriors are in the third game of a six game home stand.

Neither team plays Saturday so this should be a clean game with neither fatigue nor look-ahead factors. Golden State was just 3-3 recently following a 22-2 start but are 11-1 SU at home (8-4 ATS).

The Raptors start the week having won 8 of 9. On balance, Golden State has the deeper roster with more scoring options and a decent defensive inside presence. They also play in the much tougher conference where all 5 losses have occurred.

Toronto’s record and recent road performance should keep this line reasonable which justifies support for the hosts. GOLDEN STATE.

Washington at San Antonio (Sat.): Both teams have played well over the first couple of months. San Antonio continues to show less concern for the regular season, focusing more on late season play and the Playoffs by resting multiple starters on almost a nightly basis.

The defending champs know they do not have to be a top seed to win the title as long as they are healthy come the Playoffs. Washington is a team still improving and their 21-8 is promising. They have played mostly a home schedule thus far but are 7-4 SU on the road but 0-3 both SU and ATS as underdogs.

That may give us an inflated number especially with the Wizards playing at Oklahoma City a night earlier while the Spurs have not played since Wednesday and don’t play again until Tuesday.

This game has more meaning for the Wizards who aspire to be where the Spurs have been and finally Washington has the talent to compete on even terms when committed to a focused effort. WASHINGTON.

Dallas at Cleveland (Sun.): This will be a test for both teams as Cleveland gets the chance to gain some momentum against a team that is contending in the tough West while the Mavericks get to face the best player in the NBA and a solid supporting cast. Both teams play road games on Monday.

Dallas has fared well against the East thus far this season that include wins at Washington, Toronto and Chicago. That may keep this line low enough to support a play on what should be a motivated Cleveland squad in need of defeating a quality foe. CLEVELAND.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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