NBA Pick on Hawks to Even Series vs. Cavaliers in Game 2

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, May 22, 2015 2:04 PM GMT

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 Friday.

 



The favored second seed stole away home court advantage in Game 1, but look for a motivated effort from start to finish by the top seeds Friday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers (62-31, 27-20 away) again pay a visit to those Atlanta Hawks (68-27, 40-8 home) for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals from Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA at 8:35 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT, with the Cavaliers leading the series 1-0.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Atlanta as a small home favorite for this contest with the current line at -2 with odds of -102.


LeBron Flexed His Muscles
The Cavaliers were heavy favorites to win this series despite being the second seed and facing a top seed that won 60 games during the regular season and was 40-7 at home combining regular season and playoffs entering Game 1, but Cleveland quickly showed why it was the series chalk as LeBron James had his typical 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists and J.R. Smith added 28 points as the Cavs took away Atlanta’s home court advantage 97-89.

This marked the second consecutive series that the Hawks were the losing NBA picks at home in Game 1 as the same thing happened to them in the conference semifinals vs. the Washington Wizards, where they came back to win the series in six games. However, a similar comeback vs. LeBron & the Cavaliers seems like a tall order and Atlanta would more than likely be dead in the water with another home loss tonight.


Desperation Mode
Thus the Hawks should be in desperation mode Friday with full knowledge that only three teams in NBA Playoff history have come back to win a series after losing the first two games at home, and the fact that Atlanta was a heavy underdog for this series to begin with only compounds the urgency to win tonight. The good news there at least is that they have proven they can beat the Cavaliers this year, winning the last three meetings in the regular season.

Now some potential bad news is that DeMarre Carroll, who is leading the Hawks in scoring during the playoffs with 16.2 points per game while also being an excellent defender, was lost to a serious looking knee injury in Game 1 that was sustained without any contact, which is very often an ominous sign. However, the Hawks received great news yesterday when his MRI revealed no structural damage and he has only what is being classified as a bruised knee.

Carroll was upgraded to questionable for this game, which in itself is remarkable given how serious the injury looked to the naked eye, and has been receiving around-the-clock treatment. At least the Hawks will now know before the game whether or not he can go or not, which should make it easier to make the necessary adjustments unlike needing to do them on the spot when the injury occurred on Wednesday.

And remember that as great as Carroll has been this post-season, he as actually the only member of the Atlanta starting five not to make the All-Star team this year, so in the event that he cannot go, the Hawks seem to have plenty of talent to pick up the slack.


Not as Intense Defensively?
The Cavaliers have gotten to this point by leading all playoff teams in offensive efficiency this post-season, the only Eastern Conference team in the top seven in that category, while simultaneously leading the playoffs in fewest points allowed defensively at 92.3 points per game. With that being said, the Hawks did reach 51 points in the first half Wednesday and they more than likely would have surpassed their disappointing final output of 89 points if not for Carroll’s injury.

And now that the Cavaliers have at least a road split of the first two games already in their collective pocket, we may not see the same intensity here in Game 2 knowing that they will now win this series as long as they take care of business in their upcoming home games, and that lack of intensity usually manifests itself on the defensive end.

So while the Cavaliers have the best player on the planet in James, who may single-handedly be the reason that Cleveland should win this series, the difference in motivation between the two teams tonight could be enough to push the Hawks to a desperately needed victory.


Resilient Hawks
Finally, the Hawks have been a resilient bunch for the most part this season, as you might expect from a team that is now 68-27 overall this year. In fact, Atlanta is 15-7 ATS in its last 22 games following a straight up loss, as well as a perfect 4-0 ATS in its last four games following an ATS loss.

So while coming back in the series vs. the Cavaliers may be a tall order, at least look for Atlanta to even things up with a win over Cleveland at home in Game 2 on Friday.

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NBA Pick: Hawks -2 (-102)