New York Knicks @ Cleveland Cavaliers u204.0 (-105)
The Cavs are averaging better than 102 points per game this season. Cleveland managed only 95 in the tightly contested game 1 loss in Chicago, but has registered triple digit scores in each of the three games since.
Even if LeBron and the crew can mange the 107ish points implied by Las Vegas betting lines though, we still think the UNDER has better than even odds of covering, given the strength of the Cavs defense (Cleveland ranks 3rd in Opponents' Points Per Game, 6th in Defensive Efficiency, 8th in Opponents' True Shooting Percentage and 6th in Defensive Rebounding).
The Knicks are averaging 106 PPG so far this season, but these gaudy numbers have come against teams that are something less than utterly committed to defense (Milwaukee is #30, Washington is #18 and Atlanta is #12 in Defensive Efficiency). As such, we expect New York will manage less than 100 points this time out. In fact, our work, in aggregate, anticipates about 92 from the Knicks and 103 from the Cavaliers.
Further, based on J.R. Smith's and Jared Cunningham's Real Plus-Minus numbers for last year, we estimate that Smith's absence should cost Cleveland's offensive somewhere around 3 points per game on average (assuming Cunningham, or a player with similar worth assumes Smith's vacant minutes). Since we have not yet seen evidence of the Cavaliers' forgone scoring punch since Smith was sidelined, we would not be surprised to see Cleveland as well as New York disappoint tonight relative to the Vegas implied team scores.
Take the compelling value, play the UNDER.