Cavaliers vs. Lakers Best Bets for Sunday: Will Mitchell and Davis Suit Up?

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Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks the court during a game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on October 19, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP

So here we are enjoying a busy sports Saturday here at the ranch, waiting with bated breath for the NBA odds for Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. What’s taking so long? Don’t they know it’s a matinee game? 

There are two people to blame here: Donovan Mitchell and Anthony Davis. Both are considered questionable for Sunday’s matchup as we go to press, and there’s a good chance they’ll be game-time decisions with their respective injuries.

Not a problem. We were probably going to recommend the Under for your NBA picks regardless because it’s a matinee game. That’s pretty much an auto-bet situation. But we do need a second pick, and that’s going to depend on whether Mitchell and/or Davis are active. 


Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers 

Sunday, November 06, 2022 – 03:30 PM EST at Crypto.com Arena

What If Mitchell Doesn’t Play? 

As a general rule, it’s good to bet on a team that’s missing its superstar player. It’s even better when that superstar is over-hyped. Mitchell definitely fit that bill when he was with the Utah Jazz, but something strange is happening now that he’s with Cleveland (7-1 SU and ATS): Mitchell is an MVP candidate.

That’s what the advanced stats at Basketball Reference say. Mitchell topped out at plus-4.3 in Box Plus/Minus in his last two seasons with Utah; his scoring prowess was self-evident, but Mitchell’s defense was league-average at best. 

Public Overreaction

Not so this year – at least through seven games played. Mitchell’s BPM has soared to plus-8.0, which ranks eighth overall at press time, wedged in between Damian Lillard (plus-8.4) and Jayson Tatum (plus-7.6). That sounds about right, come to think of it. 

Casual fans have been in love with Mitchell for years, so they’re still likely to overreact if he doesn’t play, even if Mitchell’s absence would mean more now than it would have in Utah. Basketball is a team sport, after all, and the Cavs did beat the Detroit Pistons 112-88 as 4-point road faves Friday night while Mitchell sat with a sprained left ankle. 

What If Davis Doesn’t Play?

This one’s a little harder to figure out, even if we’ve seen this movie before. Here’s how the Lakers have fared the previous two regular seasons with and without Davis: 

2020-21

With: 17-18-1 ATS 

Without: 15-21 ATS

2021-20

With: 15-25 ATS 

Without: 20-21-1 ATS 

Parsing these numbers is difficult because the Lakers also have this guy named LeBron James you may have heard of – and James was also injured for large swathes of these two seasons. Then again, Davis (plus-3.8 BPM) also had one of the worst years of his career in 2021-22. 
 
He’s not doing all that much better in 2022-23. At plus-4.1 BPM, and limited by a sore lower back, Davis is still playing at an All-Star level, but he’s nowhere near the MVP candidate he used to be. Lakers fans should be more concerned about LeBron (plus-2.4 BPM), though. His fall-off is the main reason they’re 2-6 SU and ATS after eight games. 

Supporting Cast


 
Not to put all this on King James, of course. His supporting cast hasn’t been this bad since those early Cavaliers days. Never mind Russell Westbrook (minus-1.1 BPM); this is more about the paucity of talent supporting their alleged Big Three. 
 
The thing is, James posted MVP numbers during those “lean” times in Cleveland – you know, like when they only went to the NBA Finals in 2007. This Lakers team isn’t even going to the play-in tournament as constructed. 

Didn’t LeBron Bounce Back Last Year? 

He sure did. Just when I was ready to write him off as a mere All-Star, James picked up the slack during one of those extended Davis lay-offs and ended the year with a plus-7.7 BPM. That was still one of James’ worst seasons since he was a rookie, but also pretty close to the level he’s played at since he left the Miami Heat in 2014. 

This is different – and not just because James is a year older at 37 (he turns 38 on December 30). Last year’s Lakers, sad as they were, had some decent bench players: 

  • Malik Monk (minus-0.5 BPM) 
  • Carmelo Anthony (minus-0.5 BPM) 
  • Dwight Howard (minus-0.2 BPM)
  • DeAndre Jordan (minus-0.6 BPM) 

Yes, even the much-maligned Jordan didn’t play all that poorly last year. He’s with Denver now, but why are Anthony and Howard still sitting at home waiting by the proverbial phone? Mind-blowing. 

Given how everything’s gone pear-shaped with the Lakers, we’re not inclined to get too fancy with the fade/follow dynamic as it pertains to Davis’s status. Mitchell, yes: Bet even harder on Cleveland if he sits. But whatever you do, take the Under, and may the sphere be with you. 

NBA Pick: Cavaliers -3 (-108) at Heritage Sports

NBA Pick: Under 222.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 222.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.