NBA Betting: Cavaliers Advance, But Irving Injured
In the end, the Cleveland Cavaliers did what they were supposed to do: eliminate the Chicago Bulls from the NBA playoffs. However, it took a lot more work than expected, and by the time it was all over, the Cavs had lost yet another member of their Big Three to injury. Kyrie Irving didn’t play the second half of Thursday’s series-clinching 94-73 win over the Bulls (–2.5 at home) after tweaking his left knee.
It might not be all that serious. Irving (21.5 PER) said after the game that he could have played in the second half if needed, but Cleveland had already built a 14-point lead by halftime, and reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova (8.5 PER) was doing just fine in Irving’s place, finishing the night with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting. However, given that Cleveland is already short-handed without Kevin Love (18.8 PER), and given that the Bulls “won” this Eastern semifinal 4-2 ATS, the Cavaliers can’t afford to have Irving at much less than 100 percent going forward.
At least the Cavs (44-48 ATS) will be better rested than whoever they face in the Eastern final. The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks were due to play Game 6 of their series on Friday, and both of those teams have their own injury concerns. The Cavaliers will no doubt be cheering for Washington to beat the Hawks and force a Game 7. That would maximize the wear-and-tear on Cleveland’s future opponents, while giving Irving as much time to heal as possible.
If Irving does prove too gimpy to be effective in the next round, relying on Dellavedova to pick up the slack might not be Cleveland’s best option but as long as LeBron James (25.9 PER) is doing most of the heavy lifting, the Cavs can afford roll the dice with a shooter like Dellavedova. The second-year guard was second on the team in 3-point accuracy this year at 40.7 percent, just behind Irving (41.5 percent).
Overworked and Underpaid
Unfortunately, the problem with giving James such a heavy workload is that it reduces his efficiency. Although his per-game numbers against Chicago look very strong (26.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 8.8 assists), James bent a lot of rims along the way. He only shot 39.9 percent from the floor in this series, far below his regular-season mark of 48.8 percent. Part of that can be attributed to Chicago’s defense, but James also took 25.5 field-goal attempts per game against the Bulls. During the regular season, he average only 18.5 attempts per game. That inefficiency was the key to Chicago making this a close series and beating the NBA odds in the process.