NBA: Bettors taking a Cavalier attitude

Dec 13, 2008 8:37 PM
by Mark Mayer | In the 82-game grind that is the NBA regular season, quite often events slide under the radar or reduced to 15-second capsules on SportsCenter. But the Cleveland Cavaliers are making betting history and the profits over the past 11 games have gone through the roof.

Not only are the Cavaliers winning, but they are covering spreads with the greatest of ease. Tonight in Atlanta, the Cavs go for a franchise record 12th straight victory against the Hawks, the team that started this incredible run. Cleveland lost 96-89 to Detroit back on Nov. 19 and hasn’t been defeated since.

But it’s the dominance during the 11-0 ATS run that has caught the eye of NBA followers and seized upon by opportunistic bettors. The Cavaliers won nine straight games by 10 or more points, a feat never done in NBA history. Philadelphia broke the streak in an 8-point loss last Wednesday, but the Cavs bounced back to win the rematch by 16 in Cleveland.

Over the last five games, Cleveland has outscored its opponents by an average of 21 points. The Cavs are 13-0 straight up at home and 19-4 against the number in 23 games. Bettors that study first half lines should note that the Cavs have not trailed during the second half in any of the 11 straight covers.

So why are the Cavs so hot? Well, LeBron James is a good starting point – averaging 26.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists. But the real difference maker could be Mo Williams, acquired in the offseason from Milwaukee. Williams is averaging 15.7 ppg and his ability to run the point has freed the 6-foot-8 James to play as many as four positions on the court.

Cleveland also has great depth and able to stay relatively injury free. The next seven games shows no reason the Cavs shouldn’t continue to be a bet-on team. Atlanta is the first of four straight road games, but two of the stops are 4-18 Minnesota and 2-21 Oklahoma City. The Cavs then return home for three, including one against 4-16 Washington.

The amazing aspect of the streak is the actual point spreads. In seven of the 11 games, Cleveland has easily covered as a double-digit favorite. The lowest spot was 6½ points at Philly, where Cleveland led by as many as 19.

The Cavs have to cool down, but for now we’re not betting against it.