Chuck Burton/Associated Press
The Cleveland Cavaliers welcome former point guard Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday as small home favorites at the sportsbooks for the first game of the NBA season. The Cavaliers traded Irving in the offseason for a package that included Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas, who is out until at least December with a hip injury.
Point spread: The Cavaliers opened as 5.5-point favorites; the total is at 212.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NBA betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 123.3-104.2, Cavaliers (NBA picks on every game)
Why the Celtics can cover the spread
Motivation should be high for Irving, as he got what he wanted when he requested a trade. But the Celtics also added another key piece to what they hope will be a championship puzzle when they signed free agent Gordon Hayward. The combination of Irving and Hayward will help them match up much better with Cleveland.
Plus, the questionable status of Cleveland’s LeBron James (ankle) means he will be playing at less than 100 percent even if he does suit up for the season opener.
Why the Cavaliers can cover the spread
The Cavaliers have won 13 of the past 16 meetings with the Celtics straight up, according to the OddsShark NBA database, after taking four of five in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
While Irving will be motivated to face his former team, his ex-teammates will be fired up as well. With Thomas out for an extended period of time, Derrick Rose will be starting at the point alongside new shooting guard Dwyane Wade. Rose and Wade will want to prove their worth against Boston and show they are still valuable players.
Smart betting pick
Cleveland’s recent record against the spread in this series is not impressive (7-8-1 in the previous 16), but only one of those games had a spread smaller than four points. Irving will be entering hostile territory here and may regret the new rivalry he has started with James.
With Kevin Love moving to center this season, the Cavs have four former All-Stars in their starting lineup, and the Celtics will still have trouble matching up with them. Monitor the status of James obviously, but look for Cleveland to win and cover on the NBA point spreads.
NBA betting trends
Boston is 11-5 ATS in its last 16 games.
Boston is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games on the road.
Cleveland is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games at home.
All NBA odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.