Cavaliers vs Nets Picks and Predictions: Can't Crack the Cavs

The Cavs should be getting Jarrett Allen back tonight, further strengthening a defense that will make life tough on the Nets. See why our NBA picks are betting that Cleveland puts the clamps on BK at home.

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2023 10:03 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Evan Mobley NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Big Apple hosts a key clash in the Eastern Conference when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Cleveland is plunked in the fourth spot in the East and holding ground with three wins in its last four games, including a 23-point trouncing of Washington last time out. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has lost three in a row and is in danger of sliding out of the No. 6 seed and into the play-in tournament pool.

I dissect the point spread and Over/Under total for tonight’s game in the Barclays Center and give my NBA picks and predictions for Cavaliers vs. Nets on March 21.

Cavaliers vs Nets best odds

Cavaliers vs Nets picks and predictions

With the regular season dwindling by the day and the Cavaliers and Nets still jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference standings, tonight’s battle in Brooklyn could take on a playoff-like atmosphere.

Cleveland likely returns to its regular rotation, with center Jarrett Allen rumored to be back in action Tuesday. That means a bigger lineup and slower tempo on offense along with tough interior defense that ranks best in D-rating and holds foes to just 108.6 points per game on the road.

The Cavs have put forth above-average offensive numbers in the past four games but did so against some bottom-tier teams and softer defenses, watching their offensive rating spike to 120.1 during that span – going 3-1 O/U in those contests.

Brooklyn is a stiffer test tonight, especially with the way the Nets protect their home court. Head coach Jacque Vaughn is making the most of his new-look lineup on that end of the floor, with Brooklyn going from a “middle of the road” defensive unit to No. 3 in defensive rating so far this month (111.2).

The Nets went toe-to-toe with two of the best in the West at home last week, checking the Kings and Nuggets to point totals of 101 and 108 on a collective 45.7% shooting. Brooklyn has played four home games since the All-Star break and has limited those opponents to 103.3 average points on less than 45% success from the floor.

Offensively, Vaughn hasn’t been able to find a flow with so many new pieces. The Nets have been painfully inconsistent since dealing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, barely cracking 110 points per game since the break.

Things have gotten bleaker during this three-game skid, with the Nets posting point totals of 102, 96, and 107 despite some so-so opponents on defense like Sacramento and Denver. Brooklyn is firing at a 42.4% rate during this slump, including just 33% from beyond the arc.

Those three games have been played at an average pace rating of 96.0 which is a drop off a cliff from the team’s rating of 101.79 in the previous 10 games. Cleveland comes in with the slowest pace rating in the NBA overall, and will grind down Brooklyn on both ends – especially if Allen returns.

My best bet: Under 219.5 (-115 at Betway)

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Cavaliers vs Nets spread analysis

Cleveland opened as low as 1.5-point road favorites late last night and that spread has since climbed to as high as -3 as of Tuesday morning.

Cavaliers standout Allen has missed the past four games with an eye injury but was back at practice Monday and there is a good chance he could return to action in Brooklyn tonight. Allen averages over 14 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game on the year.

Cleveland has done well to survive without its big man in the middle but has benefitted from some softer foes in those last four games. Outside of a loss to Philadelphia, the Cavs have beaten up on Washington and Charlotte twice and own a 2-2 ATS mark in that span.

Brooklyn may not have the wins but it has played stiffer competition in recent outings. The Nets have lost at home to Denver and Sacramento — the two top teams in the West — and fell at Oklahoma City on March 14. Brooklyn continues to play without guard Ben Simmons, and could be down tweener Dorian Finney-Smith, who is questionable with a wrist injury tonight.

These Eastern foes faced off only once this season, way back on December 26. The Nets lineup looks very different than that previous meeting after trading away Durant and Irving, so tread lightly when it comes to any long-term trends involving previous matchups between these teams.

Cavaliers vs Nets Over/Under analysis

This Over/Under number opened at 219.5 points and has dipped to as low as 218 points at some spots as of Tuesday morning.

Allen’s potential return puts the Cavs’ shot blocker back in the middle of a defense that ranks No. 1 in the land in defensive rating. Beyond allowing Philadelphia to score 118 points last week, the Cleveland defense wasn’t tested too much without Allen in action, as the team was able to slow down Charlotte (30th in offensive rating) and Washington (18th).

The Nets continue to struggle with their offensive identity since the seismic moves at the trade deadline. Brooklyn is 28th in offensive rating since the All-Star break and this scoring attack has been flat during the current three-game skid, averaging less than 102 points on 43.2% shooting. That’s led to a string of three straight Under results.

Cleveland’s offense runs the slowest pace in the NBA on the season and that hasn’t ticked up much since the All-Star break or with Allen out of the lineup. The Cavaliers did see some solid scoring numbers in wins over the Hornets and Wizards, with 6-foot-6 forward Lamar Stevens sliding into a starting spot and making the Cavs roll out a smaller rotation.

Brooklyn is sound defensively and has done a good job slowing down some potent attacks in the past two games, limiting the Kings’ league-leading offense to just 101 points and checking the Nuggets to 108 points on the weekend. The Nets sit 13th in defensive rating since the break and have upped that intensity at home, with a 104.6 rating in their last four games inside the Barclays Center.

Overall, Cleveland is 36-37 Over/Under with an 18-18 O/U count on the road. Brooklyn’s new-look lineup is 4-9 O/U since the All-Star break with a perfect 0-4 O/U mark at home in that stretch.

Cavaliers vs Nets betting trend to know

The new-look Brooklyn Nets are 4-9 Over/Under since the All-Star break with four straight Unders at home in that span. Find more NBA betting trends for Cavaliers vs. Nets.

Cavaliers vs Nets game info

Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, YES

Cavaliers vs Nets key injuries

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