LeBron James missed the previous trip to play his former team the Miami Heat (39-29), as he rested in the second game of a back-to-back situation and saw his Cleveland Cavaliers (49-19) fall 99-84 as five-point underdogs on December 5.
The Cavaliers are consensus 2.5-point road betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark for their meeting Saturday in Miami, which will decide the winner of the regular-season series.
Cleveland won the first meeting 102-92 as 4.5-point home chalk on October 30 behind 29 points from James and 24 from Kevin Love. The Cavs still did not have point guard Kyrie Irving back after knee surgery, so Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova filled in and combined for 11 points on a dismal 3-of-15 shooting from the field.
In the second meeting, Irving did not play either, and Love finished with just five points. Four starters scored in double figures for the Heat, led by Dwyane Wade’s 19 points.
Miami has alternated wins and losses in its last six games overall following a 109-106 setback against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday. The Heat were 4.5-point favorites in that game and fell at home for the first time since signing Joe Johnson.
They went 5-0 straight up and 4-1 against the spread in the first five games with Johnson, who is averaging 15.5 points on 56.5 percent shooting in 10 games for them after his contract was bought out by the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson averaged 11.8 points on 40.6 percent shooting in 57 games for Brooklyn and has helped fill the void left by Chris Bosh.
While Cleveland has won five of its past six games, the team has failed to cover the spread in three straight, according to the OddsShark NBA Database, with two of those coming away from home.
The Cavs beat the Orlando Magic 109-103 on Friday but failed to cover as 10-point road chalk, as Irving scored a team-high 26 points and former Orlando forward Channing Frye added 14 in 21 minutes off the bench.
Frye has been a solid pickup for Cleveland following his acquisition from the Magic, averaging 7.7 points and four rebounds in 15.1 minutes as a key reserve.
The Cavs are 8-2 SU and 6-3-1 ATS in the second game of back-to-backs since their last visit to Miami heading into Saturday's matchup with the Heat.
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