The NBA will feature this elite Eastern Conference battle Friday night! It’s time to continue our NBA odds series with a Cavaliers-Hornets prediction and pick.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are the biggest surprise in the East this season. They are rolling and beating good teams which has them 5th in the East. Cleveland is (31-21) on the year but did lose to the Houston Rockets last time out. Darius Garland (who was just honored his first All-Star nod) missed the game against the Rockets with a back injury. The Cavs have already lost two elite guards to the season in Collin Sexton and Rocky Rubio, they can not afford to lose their only All-Star.

As for the Charlotte Hornets, they are coming off a close loss to the Boston Celtics last time out. LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges will have a lot of motivation going into this matchup as they both missed the All-Star cut. One of the two could end up a replacement, but for now, they have a very good team in front of them. Charlotte is (28-24) on the season which is good for the 7th seed in the East.

Here are the Cavaliers-Hornets NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel

NBA Odds: Cavaliers-Hornets Odds

Cleveland Cavaliers: +4.5 (-108)

Charlotte Hornets: -4.5 (-112)

Over: 216.5 (-110)

Under: 216.5 (-110)

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Why The Cavaliers Could Cover The Spread

Garland will be out for the Cavaliers tonight so that makes this a lot tougher of a game. Their first All-Star since LeBron James left, has been tearing it up this year averaging 19.8 points and 8.2 assists on the season. Cleveland is (17-11) against the East this season and these two squads are facing off for the third time this year. The Cavs won the last matchup 113-110 after Jarrett Allen scored 24 in the win. Speaking of All-Stars, Allen is one of the players that was snubbed from the honor. He is one of the more improved players in the Association this year averaging 16 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. We will likely see a monster performance out of him tonight.

The Cavs are successful this season because they have a well-balanced squad. They have good height to them as they utilize four elite big men. Allen, Evan Mobley, Kevin Love, and Lauri Markkanen are all very good players at their position. All four of them are averaging north of 13.6 points per game this year. Love has been a huge spark for them coming off the bench when many considered him to be done with Cleveland. Instead, he is helping lead them to the playoffs where they could easily win a playoff series. The Cavs will need their big men to cover this spread for them with the absence of Garland.

Why The Hornets Could Cover The Spread

Charlotte will be in a good position to cover this spread. They come in as favorites at home here which is the right call. They won’t have to worry about facing the Cavs All-Star, but they must defend the paint as best as they can. This will be a huge game for PJ Washington and Mason Plumlee. Those two will be tasked with taking on the elite big men for the Cavs, and they have to do a good job. Charlotte doesn’t contain much height but they have a ton of depth on the wings and backcourt. Mile Bridges and LaMelo Ball will have a favorable matchup in the backcourt. Those two alongside Terry Rozier should get the job done tonight at home. The Hornets are (14-8) at home while the Cavs are (15-12) on the road.

The Hornets will once again be without Gordon Hayward and Jalen McDaniels. Hayward has been very good for them this year bringing them an elite veteran presence. Instead, the Hornets will rely on Kelly Oubre Jr. and Cody Martin to step up off the bench and control the second unit. The Hornets will win this game if they show up offensively and shut down Mobley who is coming off a 25-point performance. If they want to cover this spread, they have to win comfortably and not let the Cavs stay in the game late.

Final Cavaliers-Hornets Prediction & Pick

This is a tricky pick to make because both teams are very good this season. I’m making this pick solely because of the fact that Garland is out and the Cavs lost to the Rockets last time out. Pick the Hornets to win and cover at home.

Final Cavaliers-Hornets Prediction & Pick: Hornets -4.5 (-112)