The natives are getting restless in Cleveland, but those with contrarian attitudes in making NBA picks against the sportsbooks are grinning ear to ear, with the Cavaliers 12-18 ATS this season.
Atlanta on the other hand is playing like many thought the Cavs would be at 22-8 and 18-11-1 ATS, quietly going about their business in the Eastern Conference. NBA basketball handicappers are impressed with the Hawks style of play and anybody making sports picks following the Association should be pleased if they are backing Atlanta.
With the national media circling Cleveland, how will they perform tonight and what will it mean against the NBA odds.
Crisis in Cleveland?
Rumors are circulating the Cleveland organization is looking closer at first-year coach David Blatt with the Cavs 5-5 and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games. There is growing concern after just 30 games Blatt does not have the ears of his team and the 55-year head coach with no previous NBA experience is being tuned out if not turned off.
It’s just not the defeats at this point, but the manner in why they are occurring, like a 29-point home loss to Atlanta 13 days ago and being throttled by a rotten Detroit club 103-80.
No question the shock of losing Anderson Varejao hurt and having Kyrie Irving in and out of the lineup with injuries prevents fluidity, nonetheless, LeBron James did not return home for this.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, in Cleveland’s last 10 contests, they rank ranks 27th in the league in defensive efficiency, 28th in field goal percentage defense and 26th in 3-point percentage defense. Those are numbers you would expect from Philadelphia, not the Cavaliers.
Hawks are Soaring
While Blatt looks to find his water level, Mike Budenholzer is arguably having the best first half of any head coach east of Steve Kerr. As opposed to supposedly Cleveland players not being interested in what their coach has to say, Budenholzer put together a film session after Atlanta started 5-5 (4-6 ATS) about his team’s defensive inefficiencies. It has become known the session was direct and to the point and since Atlanta is 17-3 and 14-5-1 ATS.
“That is fair to say,” Elton Brand said Monday when asked if the season changed after the session. “At 5-5 we felt we were much better than .500. We watched that film and the breakdown of the little things that we need to do to win games. I think that was a turning point.”
Atlanta has moved into the Top 10 of most important defensive metrics has shown a maturity not often found from previous Hawks squads. The winning adds to the confidence and players start buying in more.
“We have been able to do a lot more defensively,” Al Horford said. “That has been the biggest difference as far as our energy as a team and knowing what to do on the floor. We had some corrections that needed to be made and coach addressed them, we learned from them and got better.” Atlanta is a solid 13-3 and 9-7 ATS on their own floor.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
It seems like a waste of time to go too far back in head to head matchups since the makeup of Cleveland is radically different. In two meetings in northern Ohio this season, we have the aforementioned Atlanta blowout which was preceded by a Cavaliers 127-94 smashing back on Nov.15.
The NBA odds have the Atlanta Hawks at -2 with a total of 200.5 now that Irving is now listed as ‘Probable’.
Cleveland hosts Milwaukee tomorrow night and is in Charlotte on Saturday. The Cavs are 5-9 ATS with exactly one day off.
Besides wanting to beat Cleveland anyway, Atlanta will play three Western Conference games in four days beginning Saturday and would like to hit the road with a positive feeling.
It would be great to speculate Cleveland is due for a big performance and after being drilled by 29 points almost two weeks ago, one would think the Cavs should rise up to win.
However, that is guessing and Atlanta has a more solid foundation to build off of and one could imagine they would like to prove they are the team to be reckoned with in the East, not Cleveland; therefore I'm suggesting you to make Atlanta your NBA pick.
NBA Basketball Free Pick – Atlanta covers