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New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) leaps and shoots with Chicago Bulls forward Luke Kornet (2) defending against him during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) leaps and shoots with Chicago Bulls forward Luke Kornet (2) defending against him during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Tuesday: Greg Frank picks the Cavaliers vs Sixers, Pistons vs Heat, Knicks vs Bulls with Knick coach David Fizdale on the hot seat

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

2-1 Monday, 20-15-1 overall.

Cavaliers (+10) @ Sixers (218)

Pick: Cavaliers +10 and Over 218

Philadelphia failed to cover a massive 14-point spread on Sunday at home against Charlotte with Ben Simmons continuing to nurse a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. Simmons is listed as questionable for Tuesday night, but we’d be surprised if he suited up. The Sixers play four games between now and Sunday. They host the Cavaliers tonight, visit the Magic tomorrow, they’re in Oklahoma City on Friday and see this same Cleveland team on the road on Sunday. None of those games are particularly daunting tasks and while Simmons might return this week anyway, there’s not much of a reason to rush him back. Assuming Simmons sits on Tuesday, there’s a decisive advantage for Cleveland in the backcourt. That’s where the future of the Cavaliers lies after the franchise used lottery picks on Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in back-to-back drafts. Sexton has already established himself as an above average starter averaging just under 19 points per game so far this season which is a couple points better than his scoring average in 2018-19 and he’s shooting better than 40 percent from the three-point line in this year’s first nine games. Garland is nowhere near the shooter Sexton is, but he’s playing big minutes for Cleveland in his rookie season and looks to be finding his way having scored in double figures in each of the last two games for the Cavs. Guards Terry Rozier, Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham combined for 47 points on Sunday for the Hornets to keep Charlotte close in Simmons’ absence. We’d expect similar production from Garland and Sexton and if the game does remain close in the fourth quarter under this assumption, it should go over the total as well.

Pistons (+7.5) @ Heat (216.5)

Pick: Under 217

The Pistons made our card last night, and while they didn’t come in for us, we’re always looking to find an edge involving teams on the second legs of back-to-backs. For 18 out of 30 teams in the NBA last season, the under hit at 50% or better on the tail end of a back-to-back. For 12 teams last season, that win rate improved to 57% or better. We cashed a ticket in this spot last night with Toronto wrapping up a back-to-back in Los Angeles and the game staying well under the closing total. While the Pistons haven’t been great on the defensive end so far in 2019-2020, they were ninth in opponent points per game last season and Miami was second. After allowing 120 to Minnesota at home last night, expect the Pistons to tighten things up defensively tonight in South Beach and for this is turn into a bit of a rock fight.

Knicks (+6) @ Bulls (212.5)

Pick: Bulls -6

At times, there’s a good advantage to be gained in handicapping by listening to press conferences or reading reports from beat reporters and insiders. Both can give you a feel for the mood in the locker room and sometimes what’s going on above the players in an organization. Yesterday, one of the most plugged in insiders in all of sports, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, reported that Knicks President Steve Mills is “angling to oust David Fizdale.” The Knicks have started 2-8, but Fizdale is in only in second season as their head coach and their roster comprised of almost exclusively young players. Ten games into a season wouldn’t seem to be the ideal time let go of a coach in the middle of a rebuilding project but what else can you expect from a dysfunctional franchise like the Knicks? Considering all the youth in New York, you have to wonder where the heads are at of all the players heading into tonight’s game in Chicago. And of course, who knows if Fizdale is in the right frame of mind to coach after it got out that management is already looking to move on. Nothing is that impressive about the Bulls right now, but they’re not the rebuilding team thinking about firing a coach less than a month into the season.

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