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Tuesday's Best Bet
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Tuesday NBA Best Bet

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Fresh off an impressive debut with all their new faces on the floor, the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers take their new identity out West for the first time tonight. Cleveland is in OKC to take on a Thunder team that lambasted the Cavs a little less than a month ago.

In a season filled with plenty of lows, the 148-124 beating Cleveland took that day might have been the lowest of the lows for this organization. But things are drastically different – at least in the personnel department - for Cleveland this time around and they'd love to replicate the form that brought them a 22-point win over the Celtics on Sunday. Odds: OKC (-1.5); Total set at 222

Oklahoma City is coming off a double-digit win themselves on Sunday after they pounded Memphis 110-92. The Thunder have a return date with the Grizzlies on deck tomorrow which could be quite problematic for them (revenge spot for Memphis, OKC on back-to-back after facing Cleveland, last game before All-Star break), and that's definitely something to keep in mind for 24 hours from now.

But there is no way the Thunder will be looking past Cleveland in any sense of the word, as this could easily end up being the game of the night in the NBA. Given the close point spread oddsmakers have put out there, you'd have to suspect they'd fall in line with that line of thinking as well. However, the point spread is not something I'm looking at for this game tonight.

Tonight's total of 222 had to open up where it has because of the 272 points scored in the first meeting, and we could very well see it climb as the day goes on. Whether that ends up being the case remains to be seen, but even at this number I do see some value in making a play here, and it might not be the side you expect.

For one, there is no chance we see 270+ points from these two teams again for a variety of reasons. Cleveland's roster overhaul was made in large part to improve their atrocious defense, and through one game we've already seen results.

The Cavs held Boston to just 40.4% shooting from the floor in that win on Sunday, and only three Celtics reached double-digits in scoring. It was just the third time since Christmas Day (21 games) that the Cavs held an opponent to under 100 points, and many reports out of Cleveland suggest the new additions were a huge breath of fresh air for LeBron and company in Cleveland.

The Cavs now feel like they are built to succeed on both ends of the floor (plenty of shooters surround LeBron on offense and built better defensively) and it will be interesting to see how they gel over these final two months of the regular season. Boston and OKC are built in a similar fashion, so shutting down the Thunder tonight is a great next step to take in terms of growing your defensive success if you are the Cavs.

Oklahoma City may have won a shootout with the Cavs last month, but with fewer defensive liabilities to attack this time around (no Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade etc), the Thunder aren't probably looking into getting into a game that reaches the 120's again.

Offensively, the Thunder won't mind their chances in that style of game, but even though their defensive play has started to slide a bit of late (now rank 6th in NBA with 102.7 points allowed/game), they'll want to trust their cohesiveness on that end of the floor tonight against the Cavs.

Cleveland's still trying to figure things out on that end of the floor, and while they did a good job of holding Boston down on Sunday, the Celtics aren't exactly known as being an offensive explosion type team.

If the Thunder want to sweep the season series with Cleveland, they'll need their defense to step up and limit Cleveland's fast-break opportunities as well as guard the three-point line. If OKC can do that, then any number in the 220's is going to be hard to reach tonight.

OKC is a perfect 5-0 to the 'under' this year when they've been given a total of 220 or higher by oddsmakers, and they are on a 0-5 O/U run themselves after scoring 100+ in their last outing.

OKC is also 0-4 O/U when facing an opponent that put up 100+ in their last game, so look for tonight's game to truly be one of those ones where the first to 100 probably wins.

Cleveland is slowly going to start piling up some 'under' results with this new-look roster focused on defense they've got, and I want to make sure I cash a few tickets before the numbers are adjusted too much by the oddsmakers.

Odds per -

Best Bet: Under 222

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