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September 21, 2018

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Vegas Play of the Day: Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers

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Sue Ogrocki / AP

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

We’ve entered the fourth season of the annual South Point-lined Play of the Day competition, effective July 1.

Starting bankrolls have reset to $10,000, with the maximum bet being to win $1,000 and the minimum wager $300. Ray Brewer won back-to-back titles in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, after Taylor Bern prevailed in 2014-15.

Washington Wizards plus-5.5 at Cleveland Cavaliers: $440 to win $400

Coming out of the All-Star break, there’s no team in the league that bettors are more excited about than the Cavaliers. That makes them one of the best teams to bet against by default.

Cleveland has looked great since restructuring its roster around the trade deadline, going 3-0 straight up and against the spread, including road wins against Boston and Oklahoma City. But that’s an infinitesimal sample, and it’s dangerous to jump to conclusions from that alone.

Most statistical studies indicated the Cavaliers’ moves — which included gaining Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. — would only enhance their team marginally. The betting market has reacted as if Cleveland has improved drastically.

Based on the full-season sample — where the Cavaliers have a far worse point differential than the Wizards — Cleveland would only be a 3- or 3.5-point favorite here. A 2-point swing based on three games is too substantial.

Washington should cut into Cleveland’s hype tonight.

Current Standings: Granger (16-12, $13,079), Keefer (21-21-1, $9,426), Brewer (23-22, $8,330), Grimala (10-18, $4,415)

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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