Cleveland Cavaliers' Lauri Markkanen
Utah Jazz's Jordan Clarkson (00) puts pressure on Cleveland Cavaliers' Lauri Markkanen (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CAVALIERS VS PELICANS, DEC. 28

Kyle Barrette

As we pick up where we left off, the new streak now sits at two. A 9-1 run is good, but a 10-1 run sounds better. Let’s look at today’s matchup. The Cavs appear to have not missed a beat based on initial sightings. They move to take on the Pelicans, who are missing a few key players due to protocols. So where is the angle in this game? Let’s break it down and find out.

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Cavs
Listen, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the fewer tacos, the better. Granted, the Raptors were a bonafide G league team when they got pounded by the Cavs and lost by 45, but Fall played eight fewer minutes than he did against the Celtics and look at the results. I’ll leave it at that. More good news for the Cavs; Okoro has cleared protocols and will start for the Cavs. This adds one more piece to the puzzle for the team that once covered 19 straight games. The Cavs should also be well rested as they have only played two games over the last 10 days. Despite losing some key guys to protocols, the Cavs still held the top spot in overall defense, right next to the Warriors. With this team getting healthier and the Pelicans getting less healthy, it could spell disaster for the Pelicans.

Pelicans
Things were actually going really well for this Pelicans squad; they had won five in a row, and then the injury bug came. Big Val missed the game with a non-Covid illness, Ingram missed the game with an Achilles injury, and Josh Hart is dealing with a sore ankle. Now that Valanciunas will be back in the lineup tonight and Hart will most likely go as well, maybe the biggest key to their offense is likely not going to be on the floor tonight in Ingram. New Orleans already averages one of the worst offenses in the league, ranking 27th in points per game, and they just lost a 25–30 pts per night guy in Ingram against the top defense in the league. We have seen this Cavs team is able to put up points as well, and while this Pelicans team is not as stripped down as the Raptors right now, their average for the season is still the 21st ranked defense. The Pelicans’ stock is dropping quickly, and it’s looking like it’s going to take a big game from everyone involved to pull this one off.

Cavs vs Pelicans the Pick: Cavs -5.5
The Cavs are the far better team here. They are reassembling what was once a dominant lineup, while the Pelicans have lost their most important player. The Pelicans won’t play for four days after this game, and with all the injuries floating around, look for them to come into this one checked out. Take the Cavs -5.5.

Same Game Parlay
Cleveland Cavaliers -6, Darius Garland First Basket, Darius Garland Over 22.5 Pts, Lauri Markkanen 3+ Made Threes and Cleveland Cavaliers to win by 1-10 Pts.

SGP Odds +14750

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