Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Preview – March 12, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| March 12, 2021 5:38 am PDT

The Cavaliers charge into New Orleans to take on the Pelicans as fourth in the Central Division meets fourth in the Southwest Division. Both teams have followed similar shaky paths this season, and they have both lost exactly 22 games each. They are both becoming adrift from the pre-playoff positions, so a win tonight is vital.

The Pelicans have dominated this fixture by winning seven of their previous eight meetings. This includes winning the last five matches in a row against the Cavaliers. They also have a ten-game win streak in New Orleans to uphold, which dates back over a decade!

As you would imagine, for a team that has dominated so much against another, the Pelicans have averaged eight more points per game than the Cavaliers in their previous ten encounters. This has primarily been down to them starting these matches much quicker as they have taken an average lead of six points into the second half. New Orleans has been deadly against Cleveland in recent years and has a field goal percentage of a little under 50% against them in their last ten games.

Here is my Cavaliers vs. Pelicans betting preview.

Cavaliers vs. Pelicans Match Odds

Cavaliers +8-110
Pelicans -8-110
Cavaliers To Win+270
Pelicans To Win-300
Over 226.5 Points-110
Under 226.5 Points-110

It’s no surprise to see the handicap set at eight for this game, given that is precisely how many points the Pelicans have averaged more than the Cavaliers in their last ten matchups. However, with there not being much between the teams this season, could that offer value for the Cavaliers?

The Pelicans have not faired too well as the betting favorites this season as they have a record of 7-12. Saying that the Cavaliers don’t have a good record full stop, so that shouldn’t come into play too much tonight.

Cavaliers News

After going ten games without a win, the Cavaliers have gone through their best period of the season by winning four games back to back. This included beating the leaders of the Eastern Conference Philadelphia in overtime. The run was halted by the Pacers last time out, which was disappointing given their poor form recently and the fact that the Cavs led by ten at halftime but needless, you would still say they come into this game in good shape. The match against Indiana was a good game where both teams shot well. However, the Cavs ultimately lost the game by making too many turnovers, which has been a reoccurring theme this season.

The Cavaliers have a dreadful away record this season and have only won five matches on the road to date. However, they have won their last two, beating the 76ers and the Rockets, which is the first time they have won consecutive away fixtures this season. Perhaps things are starting to turn in the Cav’s favor.

Here are the latest betting trends for Cleveland:

Against The Spread

  • They are unbeaten in their last five games.
  • The Cavaliers have only won two of their previous eight games against the Pelicans.
  • Cleveland is 2-9 in their last 11 matches on the road.

Points Total

  • Six of their last eight games have gone under the betting total.
  • All of their previous five matches against teams in the Western Conference have gone under the points total.
  • Only one of their last six games against teams based in the Southwest Division has failed to go under the betting total.

The Cavaliers have been dire in attack this season and have only averaged 104 points per game which is the lowest average in the league.

Their biggest strength in attack has been their rebounding which is amongst the best in the league this season. They rebounded very well against the Pacers last time out, but unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to help them pick up the victory.

Cleveland’s main problem is, as previously mentioned, giving the ball away far too often. They are so sloppy in possession which is something that needs addressing immediately.

The Cavalier’s three-point shooting has consistently let them down this season, so they will need to make sure that they stay ahead or in touch throughout as if they fall behind their will be little chance of them making a comeback. However, saying that they haven’t shot well from the free-throw line either, so it pays to play physically against them.

Cleveland has a much better defense, which has helped them win most of their games this season. Their defensive rebounding has not been so good and will need to improve if they are to win the aerial battle tonight.

Their marking is poor and amongst the worst in the NBA this season, and they have far too often made life easy for their opponents.

Rumors have surfaced that the Cavaliers have signed Lakers guard Quinn Cook to a ten-day contract to try him out. If this is true, at least it can be said that the Cavaliers are trying to make changes. However, there does appear to be a hint of desperation behind the move.

Cleveland has no absentees for tonight’s game.

Pelicans News

The Pelicans come into this game in terrible form, having only won four of their previous 14 games. They have just won one of their last six games, which surprisingly came against the Western Conference’s top team, the Utah Jazz. The Pelicans were on a different planet that night as they shot at 56% from field goal range, 63% from three-point range, and made 58 rebounds. Of course, they were never going to sustain this level of performance, but if they could get anywhere near that tonight, then indeed, they will sweep aside the Cavaliers.

They have a split record of ten wins and ten defeats at home this season, and their wins and losses have tended to come in bunches. The Pelicans have alternated a win and a loss all season at home. New Orleans is on a three-game losing streak at the Smoothie King Center, but they haven’t lost four games in a row at home all season, which is something they will be hoping to keep intact tonight.

Here are the latest betting trends for New Orleans:

Against The Spread

  • They have only won one of their previous five games.
  • The Pelicans have lost five of their last seven games against teams in the Eastern Conference.
  • New Orleans is 1-4 in their previous five matches against opponents based in the Central Division.

Points Total

  • The total has gone over in 13 of their last 15 matches.
  • Five of their previous seven games against the Cavaliers have gone over the betting total.
  • Only one of their last nine matches at home has failed to go over the points total.

Other Pointers

  • New Orleans is 5-15 in their last 29 games played in March.

The Pelicans have a fantastic offense that has shot and rebounded well throughout the season. They are averaging 115 points per game which makes them competitive most nights. However, they have struggled from the free-throw line, much like the Cavaliers.

With all their emphasis being on attack, their defense has suffered and has been very weak this season. Much like their opponents tonight, they haven’t covered opposing players well, which is largely down to them putting so much effort into their attacking game. Every player tries to get forward and contribute to their attack, which often means they struggle to get back and easily get caught out on the break. Because they are out of position, they don’t tend to make many blocks. On the plus side, they don’t make a high number of fouls either.

They will have to improve defensively if they are to make an impact this season, especially after shipping 135 points to the Timberwolves’ last time out. Head coach Stan Van Gundy blasted their performance, calling it embarrassing.

The Pelicans also come into this game with a clean bill of health.

Cavaliers vs. Pelicans Betting Pick

Pick
  • Under 226.5 Points
    -110

I so badly want to pick the Cavaliers tonight, especially with an eight-point lead which I believe is enormous because they are playing their best basketball this season right now, and the Pelicans are playing their worst. However, their record against the Pelicans is atrocious, and as stylistic matchup goes, the Pelicans excel at what the Cavaliers do best which could overshadow them. You have to feel that the public dressing down the Pelicans received from their head coach after their humiliating loss to Minnesota will give them the kick up the backside they need. However, that doesn’t mean I am going to pick New Orleans either. The way that the Pelicans defended last time out will surely mean that they worked on defensive plays since the emphasis will change from attack to defense. With the Cavaliers having such a poor offense, you have to think that the points total will go under tonight.

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