Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Sunday.
After proving their superiority with two comfortable road wins to begin this series, look for a blowout by the second seeds returning home Sunday night when the top seeded Atlanta Hawks (68-28, 28-19 away) this time pay a visit to those Cleveland Cavaliers (63-31, 35-11 home) for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH at 8:35 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT, with the Cavaliers leading the series 2-0.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Cleveland as a big home favorite for this contest with the current line at -9 with odds of -108.
Heavily Favored Second Seeds
Despite the seedings and regular season records of these teams, it was the Cavaliers that were the heavy favorites to win this series before it began, and they have quickly shown why as LeBron James has picked up his game if that is even possible with Kyrie Irving joining Kevin Love on the sidelines. And the final scores of the first two games of 97-89 and 94 82 respectively actually make those contests look closer than they actually were.
The Hawks never really threatened to be the winning NBA picks in either of the games thus far, and they have shown no indication that they are now suddenly ready to compete on the road at a venue where the Cavaliers are 35-11 overall this year and 24-2 with an average winning margin of +11.7 points since January 19th, coinciding with James returning during the previous road trip after being inactive for two weeks.
No Love, No Irving, No Problem
Already without Kevin Love for the rest of the season, Kyrie Irving was a scratch in Game 2 for the Cavaliers while DeMarre Carroll played for the Hawks two nights after appearing to suffer a serious knee injury, so Atlanta seemed primed to even up the series at home. Instead, the Hawks were surprisingly not even competitive for much of the game and suffered a couple of more injuries along the way, seemingly now putting the Cavaliers in the driver’s seat.
While Carroll deserves all the credit in the world, his mobility was limited while trying to guard James and, as you would expect, LeBron has his typical monstrous line just missing a triple-double with 30 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Moreover, the backcourt of Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert made up for the absence of Irving by combining for 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Tristan Thompson again made up for Love’s absence with 16 rebounds.
And that is how it has been throughout the playoffs, as despite their injuries, the Cavaliers simultaneously rank second during these playoffs in offensive efficiency with 107.4 points per 100 possessions, trailing only the Golden State Warriors (107.9), while leading the playoffs in fewest points against defensively at a mere 91.4 per game, a combination that will win you a lot of basketball games quite comfortably.
The Hawks are now beat up both physically and emotionally. They are emotionally beaten with the knowledge that only three teams in NBA Playoff history have been able to come back and win a series after losing the first two games at home, and given that that Atlanta was a substantial series underdog to begin with, the Hawks must know that they have practically no chance to now win this series.
As for the physical, besides Carroll trying to defend the greatest player on the planet on one leg, the Hawks lost Kyle Korver for the season with a severely sprained ankle on Friday and Al Hortford also went down with a knee injury that has him listed as questionable for tonight. So as if the Hawks were not already up against it as it was, we will now see heavier minutes than usual for the likes of Dennis Schroder, Mike Scott, Kent Bazemore and Pero Antic.
Struggled Down the Stretch
Finally, this has not been the same Atlanta team that had the best record in the NBA at the All-Star break and went 17-0 during the month of January for a while now, even before the injuries hit. In fact, the Hawks are now just 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 games overall.
Do not look for a sudden resurgence here with so many walking wounded, so look for Cleveland to take a 3-0 stranglehold of this series in blowout fashion returning home for Game 3 on Sunday.
NBA Pick: Cavaliers -9 (-108)