The NBA play-in tournament tips off when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Brooklyn Nets to battle for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference tonight.
The winner will take on the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs while the loser will still have a second chance to qualify for the postseason, facing the winner of the No. 9 versus No. 10 play-in contest.
Bookies have Brooklyn installed as an 8.5-point home favorite, having defeated Cleveland by 11 points at home last Friday.
Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for Cavaliers at Nets on April 12.
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Cavaliers vs Nets odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Brooklyn opened as low as -7.5 and has been bet up to as high as -8.5 with early play on the home team. The total hit the board at 230 points and has slimmed to as low as 228.5.
Cavaliers vs Nets predictions
- Prediction: Nets -8.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Under 228.5 (-110)
- Best bet: Durant Over 7.5 assists (+120)
Predictions made on 4/12/2022 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Cavaliers vs Nets game info
• Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
• Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2022
• Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: TNT
Cavaliers vs Nets betting preview
Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen C (Out), Dean Wade F (Out).
Nets: Seth Curry G (Probable), Ben Simmons G (Out), Goran Dragic G (Out), Joe Harris G (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Cavaliers are 3-9 against the spread in their last 12 games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Cavaliers vs. Nets.
Cavaliers vs Nets picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
The big shadow hanging over this contest is that of 6-foot-10 Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, who is currently sidelined with a finger injury. Allen is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year, anchoring a surprise season for Cleveland and making the Cavs one of the best defenses in the league.
While Allen hasn’t been officially ruled out as of Monday morning, reports from the franchise don’t sound great for Cleveland backers. Sources told the media that the chances of Allen lacing them up are “unrealistic” for the play-in tournament.
The Cavs have gone from a defensive rating of 106.5 (fourth-best in the NBA) to 117.3 (21st) since Allen injured his finger on March 6. With Allen protecting the paint, Cleveland’s perimeter defenders could cheat and play more aggressively knowing the shot blocker was there to back them up.
Opponent field goal percentage has jumped from 44% to 48% during Allen’s absence, with those foes going from 103.2 points per game to 114.4 in the 18 outings without the defensive standout in the lineup. The timing couldn’t be worse, with scoring superpowers Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving headlining the Nets attack.
That combo powered an all-out assault on the Cleveland defense last Friday, with Brooklyn winning 118-107. Durant led the way with 36 points on 11 of 20 shooting while Irving finished with 18 points and eight assists — two of five starters to score 12 or more points in the victory.
The Nets followed that game with a season-ending W versus Indiana on Sunday, again getting big production from Durant and Irving as well as double-digit points from six different players. Brooklyn enters the play-in tournament having won four straight games and appears to be gelling as a team after a very disjointed season.
That said, Brooklyn has been playing with fire. It beat the Cavs on Friday despite blowing a 17-point lead and did the same thing Sunday, watching an 18-point lead dissolve before ultimately hanging on for the victory. The Nets haven’t put in a solid 48 minutes of work in a long time, which is why they’re 2-6 ATS in their last eight outings.
There are still some glaring gaps and questions around effort and focus for Steve Nash’s team, which could come to the surface during a seven-game series. But for a one-off game: Brooklyn is among the best in the business.
Prediction: Nets -8.5 (-110 BetMGM)
Part of Cleveland’s defensive stinginess comes from its methodical tempo with the basketball, milking possessions, and playing a controlled style that limits their opponents’ touches. Even with Allen out, the Cavs have maintained their plodding pace and posted a rating of 93.0 versus Brooklyn on Friday.
Cleveland, which has an underrated transition attack, doesn’t want to find itself in a track meet with the Nets and will likely pad the interior and push Brooklyn to the outside. The Cavaliers gave up only 44 points in the paint in that recent matchup with the Nets, while Brooklyn launched 32 shots from distance, making just 12 of those looks.
Beyond Durant’s range, Brooklyn is short on outside threats. Curry’s health has question marks around the team’s most consistent option from beyond the arc (he's probable to play tonight) and the Nets enter the play-in shooting a collective 49-for-132 (35%) during their current four-game winning streak.
The Nets are reliant on isolation from Durant and Irving, which is something the Cavs can check. Cleveland ranks sixth in points allowed to isolation at just 0.87 points per playset and while the defense is not what it was with Allen protecting the rim, the Cavs did force Irving to go 7-for-22 from the floor (1-for-7 from 3-point range) last Friday.
That final score played Under the closing total of 232.5 points, however, that Over/Under opened at 229 and dipped to 228.5 points before later climbing. We're seeing a similar number for this play-in game, which should carry a more playoff-like intensity on defense.
Prediction: Under 228.5 (-110 at PointsBet)
The Nets have shown a more rounded attack on offense during this four-game winning run to finish the regular season, not only getting production from Durant and Irving but also the rest of the starters.
Brooklyn, which owns an assist per field goal rate of 25.3 on the season, has watched this metric spike to more than 29 to close out the schedule. Durant has been the biggest distributor in this span, dishing out a total of 39 assists during the winning streak, including 16 helpers in the win over Indiana on Sunday.
Durant will be the focal point of the Cavaliers defense in the play-in game, likely drawing double teams whenever Cleveland can spare the extra man. With chemistry cooking and confidence in his teammates growing (and Curry potentially back for spot-up jumpers), Durant will keep the offense flowing with his passing.
Pick: Kevin Durant Over 7.5 assists (+120 at Caesars Sportsbooks)
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